2. "Retirement Accounts." All of your retirement account statements go here. You should create a file for each retirement account that you and your partner have. If you have three IRAs and a 401(k) plan, then you should have a separate file for each. The most important documents to file are the quarterly statements. If you have a company retirement account, you should also definitely keep your sign-up package, because it lists the investment options you have—something you should review at least once a year. You don't need to keep the prospectuses that the mutual-fund companies mail you each quarter.

3. "Social Security." Keep your most recent Social Security Benefits Statement in this folder. If you haven't received a statement in the mail in the last 12 months, request one by going online to or telephoning the Social Security Administration toll-free at (800) 772-1213.

4. "Investment Accounts." This folder is for every statement you receive related to any investments you may have (mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc.) that are not in a retirement account. Prepare a separate file folder for every brokerage account you maintain.

5. "Savings and Checking Accounts." Keep your monthly bank statements here, with a separate file folder for each account. Generally speaking, you don't need to keep bank statements for more than a few months—certainly not more than a year. If you get your statement online, print out a copy and stick it in the file.

6. "Household Accounts." If you own your own home, this hanging folder should contain the following files:
  • "House Title," for documents such as title reports and title insurance policies. (If you can't find this stuff, call your real estate agent or title company.)
  • "Home Improvements," for all your receipts for any home-improvement work you do. (Since home improvement expenses can be added to the cost basis of your house when you sell it, which means a bigger tax deduction for you, you should keep these receipts for as long as you own your house.)
  • "Home Mortgage," for all your mortgage statements. (Which you should check regularly, since mortgage companies often don't credit you properly.) If you're a renter, this folder should contain your lease, the receipt for your security deposit, and the receipts or canceled checks for your rental payments.
Excerpted from Start Over, Finish Rich by David Bach Copyright © 2009 by David Bach. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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