Below are the things you can do to keep what you've got safe from theft and accidents, plus how to safely take care of all the extra money you'll have now that you are sticking to a budget.
It is a good idea to keep hard copies and digital copies of your financial records. If any financial records include your Social Security number, account numbers, or other information that is personally identifiable, make sure these records are kept secure in a safe or a password protected file.
Keeping a secure system for maintaining personal financial records will help you to handle your daily personal business such as bills, tax returns, FAFSA information, and/or other budget information.
Items to keep in a secured file at home or a safe deposit box might include:
- Employment records (keep for 7 years)
- Income tax records (keep for 7 years)
- Insurance records (update every year or when there are changes)
- Investment and bank account statements (keep for 1-5 years)
- Credit reports (update each of the big three once a year)
- Copies of FAFSA (update once a year while in college)
- Birth, marriage and death certificates and/or military and citizenship papers (keep indefinitely)
- Credit card statements (keep for one year)
- Insurance policy numbers (keep for the life of the policy)
- Investment records (keep for the life of the investment)
- Real estate records (keep until sold or updated)
- Serial numbers of valuables (keep while as long as you own the item)
Product warranty information or large purchase receipts should be kept in a file for the duration of their coverage or value. When you dispose of any personal records, make sure that you do not put them in the garbage; shred them, or take them to a reputable shredding company.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity and uses your personal information to commit crimes, such as to obtain a credit card or rent an apartment in your name, charge things on your credit card or other accounts, or withdraw money from your bank account. Identity thieves can even get a driver's license, or get utility or medical services in your name. You may not find out about these crimes until you notice money missing, or charges you didn't make, or you may be contacted by a debt collector.
The best way to avoid identity theft is to safeguard your personal information and regularly monitor your personal accounts. For more information about identity theft and how to avoid it, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Prevention site.
It may be tempting to think about not purchasing insurance. After all, insurance companies charge a ton of money for a service that you might not need. And as a student, you are trying to keep your expenses down, so why pay for something you might not need?
There are several reasons why insurance matters, even to those on a student budget. Some types of insurance (for example, car insurance) are required by law. Additionally, some insurance can save you financially if a catastrophic event occurs (for example, a severe medical crisis, a severe car accident, or damage to your home or apartment).
Let's look at types of Insurance that may pertain to you and your situation: