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    Investment Record Keeping: Don't Drown in Paper


    Once you start down the path to investing, one thing that you'll notice is that the paperwork piles up fast. You'll get a confirmation every time you buy or sell a stock or mutual fund, and every time you move money into or out of an account. Each of your investment accounts will send you a statement at least once a quarter. And each of those account statements will probably include a couple of transactions, such as dividends you're received or interest that's been credited to your account.

    If you invest using dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs), you'll have another set of statements to deal with, for each DRIP and for each transaction. Every time you buy a mutual fund, you'll receive a prospectus in the mail. Stocks you own will send you quarterly and annual reports and proxy statements.

    The bottom line: You'll be swimming in paper if you don't get organized. Besides the advantage of keeping your desk or dining room table clutter-free, being organized provides two other important benefits:

    You'll be better equipped to know how much of your investing profits you'll owe to the IRS, and can make better decisions regarding the tax implications of any investment decision.

    You'll be better equipped to figure out how well your portfolio has been performing and what problem areas you might need to address.