No matter if you’re a 9-5 worker, self-employed, or stay-at-home parent, paper is a fact of life none of us can escape. It comes in the mail, comes home with us from appointments and work, and our kids bring it home.
So, what do we do with it all?
Here’s a quick run down of what papers you should hang on to and for how long, and which you can safely toss.
Keep 1-3 months
- Credit card receipts: once your statement comes in the mail and you’ve matched up the receipts with your statement, you can shred those receipts.
- Bills: once paid, you can shred them. Your checkbook or online payment will have record of your proof of payment.
- If you have bills related to tax or warranty – keep those for one year.
- Sales receipts: keep for life of the warranty, which is usually within the three-month window. This applies mainly for major appliances but consider hanging on to clothing receipts until you’re fully satisfied with the purchase.
- Sales receipts related to warranties.
- Insurance policy information if you are on a 6-month schedule – wait until the new one arrives to shred the old one.
- Bank statements.
- Paychecks/pay stubs – until you receive your end of year W2.
- Insurance policy information.
A year or longer:
- Vehicle records – until the vehicle is sold.
- Home improvement records – until the home is sold.
- Loan documents – until the home is sold or the loan is paid off.
- Leases – until you’ve moved out and received your deposit back from the landlord.
- Investment records – 7 years after you’ve closed the account or sold the investment.
- Taxes – 7 years, including all supporting documents you used to file.
How to get rid of documents
Shredding is the best way to protect yourself from identity theft. You can stick to shredding only items that have account and social security information on them, or you can simply shred everything. The general rule, however, is to shred anything with the following items included anywhere on the document:
- Password and/or pins
- Account numbers
- Birth dates
- Social security numbers
- Maiden names
There are a variety of shredding services such as Iron Mountain or Shred-it who will come to your home, or the UPS Store where, for a fee, you can drop your shredding off. Home shredders are increasingly affordable, and it may make sense to simply do it yourself. Many areas have free shredding events once or twice a year, usually sponsored by banks. Keep your eyes open for those! They are safe and secure, not to mention free.
Another great and green option is to use your shredded material as mulch in your garden. You can certainly keep an eye on it that way! Go Trashy (iPhone, Android, (888) 220-8743) also accepts shredded material. You can shred it and put it in with your recycle, but we recommend including it as part of your YW as it will become compostable.
We hope you found this quick reference guide of service!
Oh….and as for the fun things your kids create and bring home….sorry, but your on your own there.