Keeping track of paperwork
Knowing where to find financial records is a basic skill for anyone-especially if you regularly communicate with credit card companies, lenders, and banks (and that means paying your bills!). Keeping records helps you track suspected mistakes and recall the dates of major events, such as loan approvals. When the financial aid office calls and you need something in a hurry, you'll be glad you brought a sense of order to your paperwork.
Establishing your approach to record keeping
To set up your financial records system:
- Plan to keep loan applications, promissory notes, lender correspondence, scholarships, grants, bank statements, income tax returns, receipts, and paid bills.
- Don't limit your recordkeeping to financial information. Hold on to insurance policies, insurance payment stubs, and warranties as well.
- Keep monthly budgets or spending notebooks from previous semesters so you can analyze how your spending habits have changed.
- Assign one file folder per category so you can subdivide each area as you see fit.
- Keep your important financial records locked in a fireproof strongbox.
- Consider giving backup copies in a sealed envelope to a trusted friend or relative.
It's also good practice to save any receipts you gather in the event that your parents must help you out in a costly emergency. If they have to support you in any significant way, they probably will want to claim you as a dependent on their income tax return. So keep receipts for any unexpected expenses they pay on your behalf, such as large emergency hospital expenses that aren't covered by insurance.