Spring-cleaning for your financial house

Five simple strategies will get your financial papers organized. Now's your chance to end the chaos forever.

Password Amnesia
Password Amnesia
Problem: So many passwords, you cannot recall the code you need
Time Involved: One hour to install program and input info

The Fix:
Having a hard-to-guess password and changing it frequently is your first line of defense for keeping your records safe, says Paul Stephens, a policy analyst at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit devoted to combating identity theft. But sometimes that can keep your records so safe that you forget how to access your own info.

The middle ground: a software storage program, such as Password Agent ($24.95) or Passwords Plus ($29.99), that lets you store dozens of PINs, passwords and account numbers directly on your hard drive. The information is encrypted (read: safe); you come up with one master password to access the rest (just don't forget that one).

The search feature makes looking up infrequently used log-ons a cinch. Better yet, you won't have to worry about creating passwords you can't remember (the best ones are randomly chosen strings of letters and numbers - forget the dog's name or the street you live on). Then print out all your passwords from the program and store them in your safe-deposit box, just in case your hard drive has a meltdown.

Too lazy to go out and buy an encrypted program? Well, don't just keep an unprotected list of PINs and passwords in a Word document on your computer desktop - a hacker or even an old-fashioned burglar can get into it, warns Stephens. Instead, write the information down in a notebook, then store that in a locked drawer.


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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.