Personal Finance, Part 10 — Data Security

I have a filing system that I designed to help me save time.  I have a box in my bedroom that I toss papers that I might need into.  Any paper with sensitive personal data goes in there as well.  Once or twice a year, I go into that box and sort through the papers.  I sort the papers into various piles:

  • Insurance
  • Bank Statements
  • Brokerage
  • Taxes, last year
  • Taxes, this year
  • Not needed
  • Not needed, and shred, due to sensitive data (SSN, address, monetary data, identifying information)
  • Art that my children have given me
  • Articles that I wanted to keep a permanent copy of
  • Other, etc.

Typically, I retain the year-end statements for mutual funds, and monthly statements for banks and brokerages.  The rest I shred.  Rather, my 9-year old shreds… she does a very good job, and does it happily. 🙂  Roughly half gets shredded, and one-quarter gets thrown away.  The rest gets filed.

I store the long term financial data in file folders until they get large, and I bind them into binders.  I retain tax data for personal reasons, though there is little reason to go beyond seven years.  About once every decade, I go through all of my files, and pitch stuff mercilessly, retaining only what is best.  I did that two years ago.  2016 is a long way away.

The idea here is to minimize my time spent filing, retain critical data, shred data that would be harmful in the hands of data felons, and make sure that I know where to find something that is truly needed.  So far this system has worked very well for me, and I have been using it for about 20 years.

Anyway, I went through this process yesterday, and now it is great to have things organized again.  2007 was a memorable year for me, and it was fascinating to consider all of the things that happened, including starting this blog.  (Yes, I found those papers as well.)