Money Matters

The Documents Every Woman Should Have

There’s more to managing your money than the shoebox filled with crumpled receipts under your bed. According to Patrice C. Washington, Money Maven of the Steve Harvey Morning Show, organizing paperwork and keeping track of financial and legal documents is imperative to your financial well-being.

“It is hard to stay on top of your finances if documents are scattered about,” Washington says. “On top of that, many women don’t know which types of documents they need or even where to start.”

To get yourself in order, Washington suggests starting by organizing documents into seven key categories. Within each category there should be copies of several important pieces of paperwork. Here, Ms. Washington’s checklist for the documents every woman should have on file:

FAMILY LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Chances are that you’ve got paperwork to go with each major life transition. Gather them in one place, Washington says. Have copies of birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage license, divorce papers, Social Security card, passport, your will, power of attorney vehicle registration and proof of insurance and mortgage or real estate deeds of trust.

TAX STATEMENTS: Always make sure to keep copies of property tax statements, personal property tax statements and at a minimum, your previous three years’ tax returns.

FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS: Maintain a running order of your financial accounts with up to date bank/credit union statements, credit/debit card statements, retirement accounts (401k, TSP, IRA, etc.), and investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc).

SOURCES OF INCOME/ASSETS: Tracing the sources of where your money is coming from will help you create a realistic budget. Keep recent pay stubs for all sources of income, government benefits (social security, temporary assistance, etc.), alimony income, child support income, professional appraisals of personal property, and rewards accounts.

FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS: List your financial obligations such as mortgage statements, lease, utility bills, car payments, student loans, alimony and/or child support payments, and other debts to know where you stand financially.

INSURANCE: All statements and bills related to property, rental, auto and life insurance policies should be kept on file.

MEDICAL: Keeping all health-related documents together will make it much easier to handle the paperwork and bills that come with a medical emergency. Make sure you have copies of health insurance ID Cards, records of immunizations and/or allergies, list of necessary medications, disabilities documentation, dental records, and a living will.

Patrice Washington, known as the Wisdom & Wealth Money Maven, is the Founder and CEO of Seek Wisdom Find Wealth, a personal finance training and development firm based in Atlanta, GA. She is also a nationally recognized personal finance columnist, television commentator, radio host, author and speaker. Patrice was recently named editor-at-large at For more information on Patrice and her financial philosophy, please visit

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