Prices are rising and the dollar is not stretching as far as it did in previous years.

Prices are rising and the dollar is not stretching as far as it did in previous years.

Organizing to keep track of important papers is one strategy you can take to begin your journey on keeping financial information at your fingertips when needed.

A vital aspect of successful financial management is record keeping. An effective record keeping system should be convenient to use and not too complicated to maintain.

Financial records have become a vital part of life. They are a key to your credit standing, are essential to help you save money on taxes and also are a continuing indication of your financial progress. If you have a systematic plan for keeping track of important papers, you can save hours of anxious searching, help preserve peace and harmony, and make it easier to cope with emergency situations.

Record keeping also is important due to legal and safety factors. Many records and papers can be kept in a home file for ready access, while others should be left with your attorney; placed in a safe deposit box; or put in a fireproof, waterproof and burglar-proof home safe. A good rule to follow is to keep the item at home unless it is a legal document or is difficult to replace or duplicate.

Then it should be kept in a safe deposit box or possibly left with your attorney. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many people have explored the idea of sending copies of very important documents to a trusted relative in another state, and also having copies in a fireproof or waterproof file that could be lifted at a momentís notice. A number of systems are available commercially, or you can design your own, such as with file folders. It is important the system makes sense to you and that you use it consistently.

Susan M. Jackson is the Harvey County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences and community development.