Can accounting be beautiful? Accounting is the art of recording, classifying and summarizing transactions which are financial in character and interpreting the results. Aesthetics is a branch of philosopy dealing with the nature of beauty, art and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. Combining the concepts of Accounting and Aesthetics may not seem like a familiar concept, but think about it for a moment and the idea has its logic.
Throughout history, beauty and truth have been argued to be nearly synonymous. So, when you think of your finances, do you feel beauty and truth? Do you feel appreciation for the beauty of your financial picture? In fact, beauty and judgments of truth are both influenced by the ease with which information can be processed. So if you can easily and quickly retrieve the financial records you are looking for, that is a beautiful thing.
With tax deadlines upon us, sooner or later we all have to pull our financial records from the past year together. How did that go for you? Were you able to easily gather the information? Can you clearly see the big picture of your finances? If not, it may be time to apply some aesthetic principals to your financial life.
Indeed, this is the perfect time to reorganize. We are just one quarter into the year, so there is still time to create order in your financial life before another year gets away from you. Here are a few tips to put you on track for a beautiful 2012.
- Take the first step in getting organised – start your financial record keeping for 2012 with fresh files. If you use a paper based record keeping system, choose colored files and use a label maker to keep it neat. If you use a paperless, electronic storage filing system, create new folders in your computer for 2012. If you use a hybrid system, that is partly paper and partly electronic storage, then you create and label your storage folders the same for both paper and computer records.
- Be systematic in your records management approach. Author David Bach of Start Over, Finish Rich, offers a great approach. Check out his Find Your Stuff instructions at: http://www.finishrich.com/pdf/worksheets-step1.pdf
- Following David’s simple and logical guidelines, create hanging files or electronic files for the following categories:
- Tax Returns: Create individual files for each tax year for all important tax documents, such as W-2 forms, 1099s and a copy of your tax return.
- Retirement Accounts: Use a separate folder for each retirement account.
- Social Security: Keep your Social Security Benefits Statements.
- Investment Accounts: Make one file for each investment account that isn’t a retirement account.
- Savings and Checking Accounts: Keep your bank statements here, one folder for each separate account.
- Household Accounts: Make three files as follows: “House Title” for title information, “Home Improvements” for receipts for home improvements, and “Home Mortgage” for mortgage statements. If you’re a renter, create a file for your Lease Agreement, containing the lease, receipts for security deposit and receipts for rent.
- Credit Card Debt: Create a separate folder for each credit card account and keep monthly statements in them.
- Other Liabilities: Create folders for college loans, auto loans and personal loans.
- Insurance: Create separate folders for each insurance policy, including health, life, auto, homeowners or renters, disability, long term care, etc.
- Family Will or Trust: Put a copy of your most recent will or living trust, along with the business card of the preparer.
- Children’s Accounts: Use this file for all statements and records of investments for your children, and college savings accounts.
The beauty of this system is that you can start fresh today: it’s easy! In about an hour, you’ll have a great system in place, and you’ll be motivated to keep it going.
Silvia Evans, MBA of Palm Beach Accounting and Financial Services LLC helps clients develop and maintain financial record keeping systems. With over 16 years of professional records management experience in the Florida court system, Silvia has the ideas and expertise to create a customized bookkeeping and record management system that works for you. Whether you use a paper based accounting and record keeping system, or paperless system, your financial records can be simply beautiful. Silvia Evans can be reached at 561-629-5389 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation with the Aesthetic Accountant.