The Best Financial Tool for Young Adults …

What do young people do? They move: from home to college dorm, from one apartment to the next apartment, to the summer job, home again, to the next rental duplex, and so it goes! And in the process, stuff accumulates and stuff gets lost.

One of the best financial tools I ever gave my sons is a simple, plastic file box. I gave them each one at the end of high school. It's a place to keep financial papers that they may need to find -- like their social security card when it's time to start a new job. The file box stores other essential items like:

  • rental leases so that they can confirm what they agreed to do and what the landlord agreed to provide;
  • financial account information and checks (for that very occasional need to write a check such as a deposit on a new apartment);
  • insurance information;
  • job applications and resumes;
  • income taxes filed and documents needed for this year's taxes;
  • passports and more.

A file box like the one in the blog photo is a good size. (Click on the photo image to see the second photo -- it shows the size well.)  It fits in a suitcase, easily slides onto a bookcase shelf, and travels securely. I am quite fond of my sons' file boxes. One son is currently between apartment leases. As he looks for a new rental, his "stuff" is scattered: in our garage, at friends' homes, in his car, etc. But I was pleased to note that his file box was safely stashed in our house with a few other important possessions.

Another son's house that he was renting burnt down 2,000 miles from here. The next few days were confusing – what survived the fire (and the water from extinguishing the fire), which roommate had whose stuff, and where did surviving things go? The file box was found days later, on a driveway of a friend, under smoky, water-soaked clothing and personal goods. Amazingly enough, the papers were dry and readable – and all in one place not scattered to the wind. These file boxes are not fire-proof but he was lucky.

It's that time of the year again – back to school, new apartments, and new jobs. But no matter where my sons land this year, their financial file boxes will go. Here's to new adventures and the ability to find important documents when you need them!