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Tips to Clear the Clutter and Get Back on Track!

Even though COVID-19 has not reached endemic status, many people are trying to get back to some semblance of their normal life. This also means that we have to start paying attention to things that were put on hold during the lockdown. A lot of people are facing issues with being able to afford their rent/mortgage, increasing food costs and debts. Forbearances are causing many to worry about their future housing. The stress of trying to figure out everything and deal with creditor harassment can be exhausting. One thing that can help you get back on track is making sure your finances are organized. Below are some tips to gain the footing that you need to get your credit and finances under control.

Create a filing system – If you have financial responsibilities, you need an organized system to keep everything in order. This can be in many forms for many types of budgets—a small filing cabinet, banker’s boxes or plastic crates, or even a digital file. If you choose to go with physical copies, make sure that you store everything in a cool, dry place and try to keep it away from places that are vulnerable to fire and flood. If you choose digital, be sure to have a back-up of your files in case the original breaks or is corrupted. Make sure that these files include information about the account like: when you opened them, status—are they open or closed—and whether they have a balance.

Keep track of your accounts’ histories – If you keep track of all your accounts, then you are one step ahead when or if something goes wrong. Do not trust these companies to keep an accounting of your payments and balances. What if a creditor calls you to say they have not received a payment that you know you made? They are not going to provide you with a receipt. However, if you already have that in your files, you have proof that it was submitted. Keep records of late payments, fees, credits and any other transactions. We even recommend that if you pay off a single creditor that you do not intend on using any further, that you keep proof of that satisfaction of debt in case they later try and say you never finished your payments.

Don’t stop with just debts – Keeping a healthy financial record means that you have copies of things other than bills and receipts. Consider keeping your own copies of your assets as well like your bank statements, pay records, tax returns, and statements for retirement or stock accounts. As with receipts, don’t trust the company to keep an accounting for you. Having your own copies of documents helps to prove payments to creditors if you have no other receipt or sometimes alerts you to unauthorized charges or changes. They are also helpful if you find that bankruptcy is inevitable. There are certain documents that you will need to file and the Bankruptcy Trustee will not accept excuses such as “we lost them” or “we can’t get copies.”

Know when to get help – Sometimes the clutter can take over and you just cannot do it alone. Ask a friend or family member to help you organize the mess. Start by sorting things into their respective accounts. Once you have that done, look through your paperwork and decide what is important and what is recyclable. If the account is closed and paid off, consider keeping the last bill to show that the debt is satisfied and store it with any other similar accounts. If you are keeping a physical file, try to keep at least the past year of payments or if you are still catching up on payments, extend it to keeping records from the time you are restarting your payments to present. If you keep physical tax records, you might try to only have copies of the actual tax forms and official worksheets. Sometimes when you do your taxes online or go through a firm, there is a lot of excess paperwork—some online files are hundreds of pages! If you are keeping digital copies, remember to check any scans that you do to make sure they are legible. A receipt won’t help you if you cannot read it. If you need to make files smaller, try and find a compression app or program (they have online help as well) to reduce the file size.

Still need help getting control over your financial situation? Unsure on what to do next? Our Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Attorney is here to listen to your story and help you decide on the right path to financial freedom. Call our office at 843-839-9995 to set up your free initial consultation with Attorney Huong Lam. With over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy law, she is ready with compassion and understanding to help you get a fresh start.

If we can help answer any questions you may have, please call our office today for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

Lam Law Firm, LLC •1335 44th Ave North • Suite 100 • Myrtle Beach, SC 29577 • (843)839-9995

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is for general information, only.  It is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you make legal decisions based on this information.  Please consult one of our attorneys to see how the law applies to your particular situation. 

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