- Diane Thomson
January Clean Out – A Reset for the New Year
There are a few times a year that feel transitional. Spring time symbolizes renewal, birthdays earmark another year older, certain religious holidays spark self-reflection and January represents a starting over. For me, that means clearing out household & personal management files from the prior year and setting up my systems for the next. It can be a tricky transition to go from all the holiday pre-occupation and festivities to Jan 2, when we are off and running again. In the past it could sometimes be February before I recovered and thought to reset my systems. For many others they never do a reset and get swamped by the old, unneeded materials.
This year, vowing to do it differently, I got started on my reset during the slower days between Christmas and the New Year. The task is still in progress, but this is what my new year’s reset involves:
Setting up my new planner and/or calendar (whether paper or electronic) with the next years meetings, school schedule, appointments, etc.
Ordering a wall calendar – just so I can remind myself what the date is!
Purging my files of last year’s bills & determining what needs to be kept and what needs to be shred or recycled.
Gathering all supporting paper documents for the prior year taxes; bank statements, investment year end statements and other documents the IRS would want to see should they decide to audit me. (Check out the record retention list under the Tip of the Month box on the home page.)
Gathering all supporting documents that are digital into a file folder for that years taxes and backing it up on a flash drive or in the cloud. This is the same as keeping paper documents required by the IRS. I recommend having all your digital documents in your possession. If you count on a company holding them for you, make sure you understand their record retention policies.
Preparing my tax materials to give to my accountant by mid-February.
Clearing out files of any miscellaneous papers that may have been useful at one time, but are no longer relevant.
Replacing worn folders in my filing system.
Setting up new folders for any new accounts or projects (both paper and electronic).
Determining what information I am comfortable changing to paperless, and establishing a routine for whatever action is necessary for that information.
Once my tax returns are complete, archiving them along with the required supporting documents in my archive filing system (which is separate from my current reference and active file system).
Other yearly review for January may include (although I am happy to get it done by the end of February)
Reviewing investments with my financial planner.
Reviewing my will and health care proxy documents for any necessary updates.
Reviewing credit reports by going to www.annualcreditreport.com, the recommended source for a free credit report, authorized by the federal government.
Are you ready to get started on your reset?