Be free from paper clutter

With the new year, many are trying to be more organized. Part of the organization can be to go through all your old bills, papers and files. Most companies do a “purge” of the past year and boxing up old files.

For some, sorting through the day’s mail at the kitchen table, looking for “urgent” things, putting it in a pile and it will have to be sorted again later. (My personal opinion is that is how important things get lost!)  My suggestion is to decide what to do with each piece of paper the first time you handle it to be paid, to call on or to be filed?”  The rest, my suggestion is to shred all of your old things that you can throw away. Shredding prevents identity theft and is the safest method for disposing of very important information that may contain account numbers, or personal information.

We just recently purchased a new shredder at Amazon so my recommendation is to check them out here:

Click here to view shredders at Amazon

In reviewing the US governments website on document retention, I found that they recommend to use the following table for determining how long to keep records that are not active or current:

*Dead storage: All active file papers over 3-years-old are considered dead storage. This may not necessarily apply to everything—for example, appliance manuals that you use frequently should stay in the active file.

*Items to discard:

  • Cancelled checks for cash or nondeductible expenses
  • Expired warranties
  • Pay stubs, after reconciling with W-2
  • Other records no longer needed, such as those that were replaced by newer versions, manuals of appliances that you’ve replaced, etc.
(How Long to Keep Documents)
Document How Long to Keep It
Bank statements 1 year, unless needed to support tax filings
Birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, passports, education records, military service records Forever
Contracts Until updated
Credit card records Until paid, unless needed to support tax filings
Home purchase and improvement records As long as you own the property
Household inventory Forever; update as needed
Insurance, life Forever
Insurance, car, home, etc. Until you renew the policy
Investment statements Shred your monthly statements; keep annual statements until you sell the investments
Investment certificates Until you cash or sell the item
Loan documents Until you sell the item the loan was for
Real estate deeds As long as you own the property
Receipts for large purchases Until you sell or discard the item
Service contracts and warranties Until you sell or discard the item
Social Security card Forever
Social Security statement When you get your new statement online, shred the old one
Tax records 7 years from the filing date
Vehicle titles Until you sell or dispose of the car
Will Until updated

I also want to suggest that everyone have a file cabinet or system to keep your important papers and documents filed in. Not everyone has a system put into place for their records. If you cannot afford to purchase a new one, you can always check for them at a local Goodwill or 2nd hand store. Sometimes you can find them thru garage sales or through the local sale sight (Craigslist).  Start 2015 with a little organization!


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