Financial Planning, Pensions Advice, Financial Adviser Dunfermline, Fife, Edinburgh and Central Scotland

Tuesday 16th October 2018

It’s easy to misplace important documents and the costs could mount up to a staggering £800. Keeping paperwork organised and in order is a step we should all be taking.

Misplacing paperwork is an easy mistake to make. But did you know that a lack of organisation when it comes to your household documents could cost you in excess of £800? Having a system in place to ensure all your paperwork is to hand when you need it can save you more than just a headache.

Whether you need your identitiy and ownership records to support a financial transaction, for example, investing money or buying property, or to jet off on holiday, losing them can be a costly mistake for a number of reasons:

  1. If you’ve just discovered you have lost some important documents, it’s likely you need them for something in particular. Requesting additional hard copies or replacements can be a time-consuming process, slowing down your plans.
  2. Losing paperwork will cost you money. In some cases, this can run into the hundreds of pounds for a single document and in others it may be the cost of printing, either way these unanticipated charges add up.
  3. Losing your documents also puts you at increased risk of identity theft, leaving you vulnerable to fraudulent crimes if criminals get hold of your personal details, which could cost you many thousands of pounds.

According to research from self-storage company Space Station, there are five key documents that you need to ensure are in a safe place that you can access when necessary. Failing to take steps to organise these important pieces of paperwork could lead to a hefty outgoing that you weren’t expecting.

1. Mortgage documents

While some mortgage documents are easy to replace without a fee, others can be costlier to get hold of should you need to. Furthermore, it can be hard to make decisions about what is probably your largest financial expense each month without key documents, such as your original mortgage offer. If you’ve repaid your mortgage and have lost your housing deeds, you could be looking at a bill of £500. In this case, you would need to provide substantial evidence showing a chain of legal ownership spanning 15 years and pay for a solicitor.

2. Passport

Despite passports being one of the most valuable documents you have, tens of thousands are reported lost or stolen each year. The initial cost of replacing a lost passport is £75.50 but if you need it urgently you can expect that fee to rise. On top of that, if you already have plans in place, you can find yourself out of pocket if it turns out you can’t travel, processes being delayed, and face significant stress that could gave been avoided.

3. Bank statements

With much of banking moving online, it can seem like there’s little need for paper statements these days. However, there are many times when you will need to provide an overview of your finances. For example, when applying for a mortgage, it’s often expected that you’ll provide at least three to six months’ worth of statements as part of your application. At around £5 for each month, it may not seem like a huge cost, but it can mount up.

4. Birth certificate

Replacing your birth certificate is relatively easy and costs £9.25 with a two-week turnaround. It might seem like a small expense but if you lose it multiple times, it can become a significant bill. On top of that, if you’ve decided to replace your birth certificate, you’re probably in the middle of applying for something, such as a passport or mortgage, resulting in delays if you don’t have yours to hand.

5. Car log book and insurance details

Both your car log book and vehicle insurance details can cost up to £30 each to replace. If your vehicle is critical for your lifestyle, whether you use it for work or not, losing your car log book and insurance details can set you back in other ways too, hindering your plans.

Four tips to help you stay organised

With both costs and convenience reasons for ensuring your documents are properly stored, taking steps to improve the organisation of your home could be a worthwhile venture. If you’re looking for ways to get started, we’ve got four tips you can put into practice.

  1. Invest in a home filing solution to keep everything organised. If you have a lot of paperwork, home filing could be just what you need to create a dedicated space for documents that are stored in a way that makes sense to you.
  2. Take advantage of digital scanning and backup options. If your paperwork is stored digitally you’ll still need to pay printing costs when you need hard copies, but it can significantly reduce the associated outgoings and ensures the information you need is just a few clicks away.
  3. Replace your documents every time they’re used. It might seem like a simple step but all too often paperwork is misplaced due to simply forgetting where you last had the document, returning it to the same place removes this issue.
  4. Encourage the whole family to use the same place to store their documents to make finding them far easier. With a specific space to keep all valuable paperwork, you’ll know where to head whenever they’re needed.

The importance of organisation after death

It’s not a subject anyone wants to talk about, but while we’re on the topic of keeping your documents in order, there is another benefit; it’ll help your loved ones organise your estate and affairs when you pass away.

Making sure all your financial paperwork is kept in the same place and organised, will help your family at a time when they’re grieving, as well as making your final wishes clear. The most important document in this case is your will; make sure you make a will, tell people about it, and let them know where it’s kept.

For more savings tips and an in-depth look at your household finances, including ways they could be improved, please get in touch.