Organizing your family records

Put this task at the top of your to do list!

For many, it is so easy to put important papers in a drawer, box or large pile with the best intention of “organizing” them at a later time. The unfortunate reality is that it is easy to forget about this task until an important paper is needed. Most of us can relate to frantically looking for an important document. This is an unpleasant, time consuming process that could be avoided by putting a family record keeping system into place.

There are numerous benefits to a record keeping system:

  • The ability to find important papers and records quickly
  • Manage current and ongoing financial responsibilities
  • Provides information for decision making, including difficult financial situations (i.e. moving, downsizing, foreclosure, etc.).
  • Accessing important documents in an emergency: i.e. natural disaster, family emergency, foreclosure, etc. For more information on this topic visit the article Emergency Preparedness: Are your finances in order?

For a family record system to be successful there are three key components: choose one place to store all important records, decide who will oversee record keeping activities and develop a schedule for maintaining your record keeping system.

Don’t forget a key document in your family record system, your credit report. It is recommended that you review your free credit report annually to check for mistakes and any occurrences of identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report each 12-month period, from each credit bureau (i.e. Experian, Trans Union and Equifax). Contact today, to access your free credit report.

To assist with developing and or organizing your family record system, download the Michigan State University Extension, Organizing Your Important Papers guide from the Starting Over After Foreclosure Toolkit. Consider this guide as a starting point and make modifications to fit your personal situation.

Michigan State University Extension has released a new toolkit for homeowners who are experiencing or have previously experienced foreclosure. This toolkit will equip these individuals and families with tools to help them recover their financial stability, in the case that a recovery of their home is not possible. The toolkit is available to download free at

For a variety of financial resources, including how to assess your financial health visit Michigan State University Extension. In addition, Michigan State University offers money management and homeownership classes. For more information about classes offered in your area visit MI Money Health.  

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