- Explore different options of filing and organizational systems that work for you. The best ones will help you stay organized for extended periods of time and will provide you convenient access when you need to retrieve information.
- It's important to keep hard copies of all your interactions with the IRS or any other government agency. Digital files are often not enough.
- Keep track of all relevant receipts for financial aid, tax exemptions, etc.
Information is valuable! You'll need to keep careful, detailed, and safe financial records to be able to report correct information on taxes, FAFSA, and whenever else you need it. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Keep a "Tickler File"
A tickler file is a helpful method of record keeping that keeps you completely up-to-date on paying your bills, other financial deadlines, and other aspects of your life that are time-sensitive. For a short, informational video on how to use this system, click here.
Make sure you have a reference file of documents that are not time-sensitive but are important to keep for the future or "just in case." Keep this file organized in a way that you can best find each document, whether it's organized by year, document type, or another way that you may prefer. See below for the different documents you should include in this file.
Important Documents/ Receipts
Always include items such as tax forms, tax returns, records of any interaction with the IRS or other government agency (such as the DMV), health insurance interactions and proofs, receipts, contracts, academic records, tuition payments, other insurance interactions, loan and credit card information, bank statements, receipts, etc. Although you may have a digital copy of some or all of these documents, it is always a great idea to have hard copies of everything you can get.
As stated above, it is always a great idea to keep tax records and tax return records/ receipts in your reference file. You should photocopy any records you send in officially, email them to yourself so you have the date of the copy on record, and keep a printed copy in your reference file of every interaction you have with the IRS or related services (including financial aid and scholarship applications and federal student loans).
Keeping track of other important receipts, including textbook, tuition, and rent receipts, can be helpful in future cases if you need to prove your integrity in using financial aid or claiming tax exemptions. This is also a great way to prevent permanent damages to you caused by credit fraud or identity theft.