Gather or download your statements.

Yes, I know we’re jumping around a bit.  There’s a reason we’re doing this today now.

Today, I want you to download (or gather, if you e-statements are not your friend) your bank, credit card, loan, mortgage, car, and even utilities statements.  (I keep the utilities statements for a few years so that I can check out our heat and cooling usage, but many people recommend discarding those fairly quickly.  If you’re keeping paper statements, I would recommend not keeping them long.  If you’re saving e-statements, you can keep them forever for little cost.)

If you have paper statements, put them in a folder or envelope.  If you really want to be organized, put them in date order first.  If you are downloading e-statements, figure out a file organizational and naming system that works for you.  I save mine in a subdirectory that looks something like this:

/Finances/Records/Utilities/Electricity/Statements

I name the files with the dates, starting with year.  For example, my 12/31/2016 bank statement is labeled like this:

2016.12.31.pdf

(The PDF tells the computer and me what type of file it is.)  And yes, I have to rename the statements after I save them because otherwise, my OCD would kick in and drive me crazy.

If you’re saving files as e-statements, we’ll talk later about how to organize and back up your drive.

I can guarantee you that if you have never actually downloaded your statements despite being enrolled in e-statements, you won’t be able to download them all.  Just download what you can.  And sometimes you’ll be able to download them, but will have to wait 24 or 48 hours for them to be accessible (hello, American Express!).  Just be patient.  The goal is to have records organized and filed just in case you need them.

Time required:  Days.  I’m still working on it.  No, seriously, I am.  So expect the upcoming days of tasks to be relatively easy and not very time-consuming.

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