A Reorganization of Your FinancesSpring is upon us and I feel the urge to purge, excess clutter that is. The same can be done with your finances. After facing a divorce it can be tough to look at the mountains of paperwork and files that are lying all over your desk, but it is definitely a necessary task.

So with some "spring" in your step take advantage of your good mood and tackle organizing your finances.

Start with the Paperwork

Chances are you still have some of your ex's old pay stubs and utility bills from your marital home mingling with the current bills and other important stuff. Here are some tips on what you need to keep and for how long. Just remember to run the trash through the shredder.

What to Keep Forever 

  • Passports  
  • Social Security Cards  
  • Birth and death certificates 
  • Citizenship paperwork  
  • Military records  
  • Marriage and divorce decrees and certificates 
  • Wills, living trusts, and powers of attorney  

The 7 Year Itch

Keep these documents for 7 years, in case of an audit. 

  • Information on home purchases and sales, titles, etc. 
  • Old tax returns, W-2s, and any 1099s  
  • Information about rental property  
  • Receipts for improvements you have made to homes  
  • Year end brokerage statements  

Say Goodbye  

  • Paycheck stubs (wait for your year end W-2, then pitch)  
  • Bank statements (Upon receipt of your year end statement-toss them)  
  • Insurance policies (upon receiving your renewal statement)  
  • Receipts for purchases (After they have been reconciled or for warranty purposes) 

Develop a System

Be sure to find a safe place for the "keep forever" documents such as a safety deposit box or safe kept in your home. After purging the excess papers decide how you will organize what remains. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

  • Binders. Create a binder for each of these categories: utilities, financial statements, credit cards, and miscellaneous. Include six months of what you have on hand and place each month’s bill or statement in the appropriate binder. The beauty of the binder system is ease of use and a clutter free desk!
  • Filing cabinet. Using the same principle as the binders, create a file for each of the categories and be sure each statement or bill finds its home.
  • Electronic filing. While there are certainly a few more steps involved you can keep all of your files electronically without having papers lying around. All you need to do is create folders on your computer and scan or copy them to their designated folder.

Spring is the perfect time to embrace the "out with the old, in with the new philosophy". Say goodbye to accumulated financial clutter from when you were married and hello to the new, organized, single you. 

Check out

divorce support blogs for more information on navigating divorce.

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Healthy & Wealthy After Divorce

Suzanne CramerSuzanne Cramer   

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @SuzanneCramer1  and @AskCareOne where she shares her insights on divorce and managing your finances.