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Organization Help: List of What Paperwork to Keep and What to Shred

Dear Self,

Why the heck do you feel the need to keep every single piece of paper that’s ever floated into your life in a hugely disorganized pile on the dining room table? Sure, some of them may be pretty important, but most of them could be introduced to Mr. Shredder, right?

Yours faithfully,

Clutter Is My Worst Enemy

We’re pretty sure many of us can relate to the above scenario because, let’s be honest, all of us have a mailbox that’s been infiltrated by “junk mail” we can’t decipher. Credit card applications, packs of insurance documents, bible-length retirement fund reports, pay stubs dating back a decade, all of it. Well, to help you overcome this pile of paperwork for once and for all, we’ve come up with a pretty extensive list of what paperwork you should pop in a safe and what can be shredded (and then recycled).

What You Should Keep A Physical Copy Of Forever:

To give you the sum of it: you pretty much want to keep a physical copy of anything that’s state related or a federal matter, such as certifications, licenses, deeds, etc. That’s partly because you’ll want to access them quickly when the time comes and partly because they are a nuisance to replace. Things–like birth and death certificates, social security cards, pension plans, IDs and passports, marriage license, business documents, insurance policies, wills, powers of attorney, car titles, loan documents, house deeds and mortgage papers –they should all be kept together in a safe place, preferably in a fireproof safe. 

What You Should Keep The Latest Versions Of For A While:

Just so you know, it doesn’t matter whether you keep a physical copy of these documents or you scan, then store them, in a highlighted folder on your computer – so long as you have a copy of them at hand. Anyway, to break it down for you a bit more, you want to:

  • Keep all of your tax records and receipts for a minimum of seven years, just in case the taxman comes knocking, you decide to start a business, need a large loan or want to buy a property.
  • Keep your bank statements for a year, at least. Of course, if you haven’t done this, you can always use a pay stub generator and start now, which is a great idea, as you never know when you might need to provide proof of your income later on.
  • Keep any documents relating to a property purchase, sale, renovation, or improvement job for at least six years after you sell it.
  • Keep every page of your medical records and healthcare bills for no less than twelve months after you’ve made a payment because you never know when you might find yourself embroiled in a dispute with an insurance provider.
  • Keep all the latest versions of your Social Security statements, annual insurance policy documents, and retirement plan statements, whether that is your 401(k), 529, IRA, etc.

As for everything else, shred ‘em.

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3 thoughts on “Organization Help: List of What Paperwork to Keep and What to Shred”

  1. Pat Wahler says:

    The worst for me is my office. Paper everywhere. I can clean/organize on a weekly basis, and in no time at all I’ve got another mess. It’s truly maddening.

    1. luvboxerdogs says:

      I think my paperwork problem comes from 1. my own to-do-lists 2. all of the papers that come home with KT from school! 🙂

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