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Organising The Finances

Organising the Finances – A podcast with Jason Butler

Welcome to Age Space money, the podcast that gives you insight, ideas and perspectives on elderly care and finance. This podcast is presented to you by Annabel James, founder of Age Space, which is an online community for anyone looking after, or supporting, an elderly parent; and Jason Butler, financial wellbeing expert and author of  “Money Moments: Simple Steps to Financial Wellbeing“.

In episode 1 Annabel and Jason discuss the topic of financial organisation. Jason offers his top tips on getting your own finances organised, and managing your parents’ finances. Listen to the podcast here and find the key points of what Annabel and Jason discussed in the show notes below.

You can also find this Age Space Podcast episode and more on Apple Podcasts.

Jason's 6 steps for creating a master list of financial documents

  • Step 1

    Get a big piece of A3 paper, and turn it into four sections: 1) Bank Accounts; 2) Investments; 3) Legal stuff; 4) Anything else that doesn’t fit into the above categories.

  • Step 2

    Take a pencil to map and mark all of their documents against the master list that you have just made.

  • Step 3

    Go through the paperwork and start working out the piles, corresponding to your master list.

  • Step 4

    Once you have your papers catalogued in piles, work out what you need to keep or shred.

  • Step 5

    After that, fill in your A3 sheet of paper to work out clearly where all of the documentation is.

  • Step 6

    Sit down with the person you are doing this for and ask, “Is there anything missing, is there anything you haven’t told me about that you think should be on here”?

Jason's advice for bringing up financial organisation with your parents

If you are responsible for someone else, you’ve got to get organised yourself.

So, one way to raise this issue with someone is to say, “I’ve had a lovely clear out, I’ve tidied up all my paperwork, I know where all my financial assets are, I’ve got all my documents organised. I’m sure you’ve got it all organised?” and this is a nice way to lead into it.

Jason's advice for getting your own finances organised

If you don’t want to do it yourself, and if you’ve got the money to hire someone else to do it, then we strongly recommend that, certainly for the initial tidy-up, you hire someone to do this.

You can find people with credentials and recommendations online, who can come in, almost like a personal PA, and go through your paperwork, tidy things up and catalogue it all.

You could also find someone in the family, who is just out of university, or in-between jobs, and has good organisational skills, and ask them to help you to get organised, for not a lot of money – this could be £20-£30 for a couple of hours work.

There is always someone out there who is very organised, who will do this and love it.

Jason explains how you can use technology to organise your finances

There are more and more digital vaults; some are provided by financial advice firms, as part of their package, but you can also use Google Docs, Google Drive and iCloud.

But, you don’t need to make this complicated. You can upload scans. I don’t keep any copies of dividend vouchers and anything like that:

  • If it comes in as a PDF, I just save it to my designated folder, add it into the spreadsheet;
  • If it comes in as paper, I scan it, shred it and upload it, unless it’s something I have to keep, like a will, or a lasting power of attorney, then I keep these in a heatproof and fire-proof box.

Remember, you start with an A3 sheet of paper; you don’t have to use electronics.

Even if you do keep digital record, I would always recommend having an old-fashioned print-out to keep with your papers, together with your ‘what to do when I’m not here’ instructions.

Summary of Jason Butler's top tips for financial organisation

  • Create a master list split into four sections and organise your papers into piles: Bank Accounts; Investments; Legal; and anything else.
  • Start small and commit to doing a little bit each week.
  • If you’re looking after someone, get yourself organised first; this will help you to raise the subject with them.
  • If you can’t or don’t want to do this yourself, hire a Personal PA to help you, or ask a friend or family member with good organisational skills.
  • You don’t even have to throw anything away; just create an ‘unsure’ pile for someone with more expertise to review.
  • Organising your papers before you seek financial advice could save you a lot of money. Spend a little bit of time and money to get yourself to a better place with your paperwork, before consulting an expert.
  • Even if you do keep digital records, keep a print-out master list with your papers, together with your ‘what to do when I’m not here’ instructions.