Which financial records should you keep?
Which Financial Records to Keep?
I'm attempting to get out of the clutter in our household. I have a bad habit of keeping everything paperwork wise. Help! I'm drowning in paper!
Is there any info out there that I can refer to that can explain what I absolutely need to keep? The obvious I'm aware: Birth Certificates, marriage licenses, etc. I'm wondering about things like phone, electric, utility bills...bank statements, credit card statements, investment paperwork (monthly statements that pile up quickly). Please advise. I can't seem to find any info out there.
The best resource I've found is Organizing from the Inside Out, second edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life
by Julie Morgenstern. She has a breakdown of what to keep and pitch for every room of the house, including a guideline for financial records. This book literally changed my life!
Help to Organize Your Financial Records
A few excellent books that list papers you must keep and papers you can let go of are:
- Taming the Paper Tiger at Home by Barbara Hemphill (subtitled "Organizing the Paper in Your Life")
- Conquering the Paper Pile-Up by Stephanie Culp - She has written many books about organizing, streamlining, paper management, etc. and they all have good info in them.
- Let Go of Clutter by Harriet Schechter
Each one has a list but the Paper Tiger book is the most exacting of the three. Each book also has many encouraging tips, ideas, systems and things to consider when dealing with paper and paper overload. I've borrowed all of these (and more!) from the library so try there first before a bookstore.
Another Book Resource
There is a book by Jeff Campbell (the author of Speed Cleaning
) called Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet
that has a great page detailing how long to keep every sort of paper document imaginable. The book is also filled with great tips on de-cluttering the rest of your home, as well. The book only costs $9.99 retail and is worth every penny, in my opinion, or you can always get it free from the library.
Using Technology to De-Clutter Your Papers
I'm a little like that lady in the article who complained about all her paper clutter. For all the non-essential financial records (that I "think" that I need to keep) I use my scanner and scan them into a folder on my PC. I get rid of the hardcopy and can print one later if needed.
Right to the Source
IRS publication 552 "Recordkeeping for Individuals", should be helpful for tax purposes. Get to it at www.irs.gov and look for publication: 1099 Publ 552 (PDF) Recordkeeping for Individuals. It's a downloadable .pdf file.