NDSU Extension - Sargent County

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Paperwork and Recordkeeping

Paperwork and Recordkeeping 1/26/18Earlier this week a farmer stopped in at the Extension office to buy “one of those green farm record books.”   He was a little worried that we might not sell them anymore, so he sure was happy when he found out that we do. 

We actually sell quite a few of those green farm record books.  Regardless of their age, some people simply prefer to literally take the hands-on approach of using a pencil to make the entries in the book rather than use a computer programs or hire the work done. 

Whether it is farm/business records or family records, record-keeping is a fact of life.  Keeping records organized can save time, trouble, money and frustration.  Even on an everyday basis, organized recordkeeping makes paying bills, finding receipts and managing finances much easier.

If what you are currently doing or using for record-keeping is working well for you and your family, pat yourself on the back and give a cheer!  If it’s not, read on!

Getting started on a recordkeeping system, or changing to something you hope will work better than whatever you’ve been doing may be time-consuming.  However, once it is set up to meet you family’s needs, maintaining the system will be pretty easy.

NDSU Extension publication, “Family Records: What to Keep Where and For How Long,” offers straightforward information and answers to your questions.  It is available at the Extension office and online.

The first step is to identify which records are the type that need to be saved and stored.  NDSU Extension pamphlet, “Inventory of Important Family Records,” (FE446) provides that guidance.

An easy way to keep track of the papers and records is to put them into file folders and then designate a place to store the file folders.  A filing cabinet, under-the-bed storage tote, cardboard box, desk drawer, or accordion file are all popular options for current and inactive files.  

However, permanent records require a higher level of care.  Permanent records are very important papers (VIPs) such as real estate deeds, automobile titles, certificates of birth, adoption, marriage and death, wills and other legal papers, contracts, household inventory, and anything else that would be expensive or difficult to replace.

Very important papers (VIPs) such as those listed above should be kept safe in a safe-deposit box at a financial institution, or at home in a storage container that is both fireproof and waterproof.

Within your files of current, inactive, and permanent papers and records, you will have a variety of titles, headings or labels.  The titles need to be what will make sense and work well for you and meet your family’s changing needs. 

A good record-keeping system is one that will allow someone to step in during an emergency and be able to locate important documents, maintain records and prepare reports, even if they aren’t familiar with the record-keeping system.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/accounting-report-credit-card-761599/ (downloaded 1/30/18)

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