How do you manage your (financial) documents?

Hello everyone

I’ve only learned about the fire movement recently. While I know the concept of saving, but the strategy like investing into low TER ETFs was new to me. My following question isn’t specifically linked to FIRE but it’s somehow connected since we’re based in Switzerland.

By law, only companies are required to keep their documents for at least 10 years.
Technically an individual doesn’t have to keep anything and could throw documents out anytime. Of course it is advised to keep certain important things like contracts, diplomas and so on forever.

How do you deal with financial documents? You’ll receive contract notes/confirmations every time you buy stocks. Even more so when using “dollar cost average”-strategies / investing monthly. Then there are account / asset statements and other stuff for dividends. That’s like 25 to 100 documents per year depending on how many brookers/banks/positions you have.

While it isn’t a big deal anymore to have everything digital as pdf, I still think this is a bit of a chore to manage. Do you throw most of the documents away after filling the annual tax declaration forms?

Thanks for your response.

Generally, I keep all my documents (litteraly).

I scan and then destroy all paper banking documents only after the account is closed (or exceptionnaly after the Iban changed). I still keep the last ones for some years.

I keep all my utility bills and only scan and destroy them from time to time after ~6 years or so.

I have all my tax documents since I pay taxes (but I might destroy them after 15-20 years)

4 Likes

Same here I would say. I have a separate archive folder where I store chronologically all financial documents received electronically. Before it was backed up on an external drive, now it is mirrored in a cloud account (with end to end encryption).

I wouldn’t say last 5-10 years we are getting many financial documents only in paper form, some useless yearly statement sometimes.

There is not much to care about those, you just need a total amount at the end of the year

and received dividends! These are most important and tedious to track back, so I store copies of dividend statements in a separate folder.

A chore yes, but I save the relevant pdf’s on a private cloud/hard disk while doing tax-teturn anyway, so that’s more-or-less a by-product.

However, since most banks are digital these days (they’ve all forced me to accept digital statements by introducing fees for paper), it’s actually not absolutely necessary, as they store for the 10years that might be needed in a case where you have to prove something to an authority.
You could login to the e-banking and download all the documents going back 10 years, in case needed.

I saw documents available for download for a time frame between 6 months and 1.5 years. After that you have to request them and pay for it.

Really? if I remember correctly, in my Migros-Bank and Postfinance, it says something like “storage duration” 10 years. Will have a look next time I login.

Better look how long back you can download your documents, this not the same thing.

Ok, oops, thanks. Will do!

Edit: so I checked Migros Bank and the monthly account statements and annual reports go back to 2012 (when I opened the accounts). I assume that they’ll be available 10 years back then.
Dividend payment slips seem to be available back to end 2018, so probably 3 years.
Former should be enough for major issues with authorities, latter enough for requests to a tax declaration from tax authorities (proof of dividend, withholding tax etc)

I configured all my bank account so that most of the documents are received as pdf documents. Everything that comes as paper is scanned and stored as pdf. I keep up to date a digital accounting system (gnucash) and with the transaction I save the name of the document. The name of the document is composed from the date (20210923 for example) the number of the account and eventually the number of the transaction.
A script based on the function “locate” of a linux operating system allows to open immediately the pdf by providing even a subpart of the name (a number) which is unambiguous even if you do not know where the document is stored in the computer. I never loose a document but it happens a document is not stored where it should.

1 Like

Well, kudos to Migros Bank for this.

This is my configuration:

  • Store in my PC.
  • Backup in an external drive (SDHD).
  • Mirrored in a swiss cloud.

Which Swiss cloud do you trust and/or recommend for this type of personal documents?

I am using Infomaniak, but I will maybe switch or try Protondrive when available.

Also, keep in mind that if you are a member of neon Q, you have a special offer with Infomaniak: 1 free year ans then 40% discount for life on each 1 year subscription.

1 Like

I somehow can’t get rid of the idea that Proton is an NSA honeypot :joy:

What is cool with Infomaniak they offer OpenStack compatibility so if you have a Synology NAS you could use Hyper Backup to encrypt everything locally before you back it up to the cloud.

So basically you work with local files on your computer, which are synched to the NAS automatically, and then in a nightly task they are being backed up to Infomaniak but encrypted before they leave your NAS. So everything is automated and you have 2 local copies and one remote copy of your files.

Another provider in Switzerland would be Exoscale which offers S3 compatibility so you could do the same but is more expensive than similar providers, especially the bigger ones from the US.

1 Like

I didn’t know about that, but it’s really interesting, I will investigate about that, if you have a source, it will be welcomed, as my “IT skills” are a bit close to 0 :sweat_smile:

They have a step by step guide here:

:rocket: Swiss Backup: Backing up a Synology NAS with Hyper Backup and OpenStack Swift (infomaniak.com)

The guide doesn’t include the encryption option but at step 8 you just check “Enable client-side encryption” and set a passphrase, that’s it.

There is a similar option if you want to use kDrive instead of Swiss Backup with Cloud Sync:

:rocket: KDrive: synchronizing a Synology NAS with kDrive - Infomaniak

However, I like the Hyper Backup option more, because there you can define a backup policy and retention times etc.

To sync files from your local computer to the NAS you could use Synology Drive.

Drive | Your private cloud for file access and sharing anywhere | Synology Inc.

It’s basically a Google Drive like experience just everything locally on the NAS.

2 Likes

Thanks again for the replies. That’s a bit more reassuring. Was a bit worried that I also have to keep things like confirmations of currency exchanges, account transfers.

To summarize: Keep statements of assets as of 31.12.202x and other documents about dividends a few years mostly for tax purposes.

Although I might search for some DMS for my all my documents and get rid of a few folders of paper. Simple process of renaming files, adding tags to distinguish their domain would be convenient.

I‘ve wrote instructions on how to use Infomaniak with QNAP NAS a while back. I personally use Backblaze tho, costs ~55 USD per month for 13TB of storage.

I’ve had bank accounts where I can’t even get last year’s account statements. One of my banks upgraded their online banking recently and I’m unable to get any older statements from them online since then. Others provide archives for 10 years (at least).

Since I’m lazy, my filing system is a folder on my computer in which I keep separate subfolders for each financial service/bank/company I’m dealing with. So I’ll have, for example:

  • UBS
  • Neon Hypothekarbank Lenzburg
  • Bank Cler Zak
  • SBB
  • local electricity company

I‘ll name documents by date (for sorting purposes) with something like 2020_10_01_something.pdf and file them into the appropriate folder. If I’m looking for anything specific by content (could be ISIN, for instance), I’ll just use the file manager’s search functionality. Physical letters get scanned and OCRed.

For backup, I’ll just clone and sync the parent folder to a USB flash drive or encrypted disk image (for off-site backups).

What’s your OCR strategy? I also scan everything but haven’t gone the extra mile for OCR. Which is a pain when searching for something in particular.

By reading and partipating to this forum, you confirm you have read and agree with the disclaimer presented on http://www.mustachianpost.com/
En lisant et participant à ce forum, vous confirmez avoir lu et être d'accord avec l'avis de dégagement de responsabilité présenté sur http://www.mustachianpost.com/fr/