10 Minute Tidy Office Tip 75: What to Keep, What to Shred

by shannon on May 13, 2013

When documents or reference materials are dated it is easy to determine if that information is no longer current. I recommend keeping the most recent documents in the front of a file folder so that it is easy to flip back and see what is old and can be recycled, archived, or shredded. Be sure to check with your lawyer and accountant for specific references for your office papers. Here is a general guideline:

Keep for 1 month:

•           All receipts for potential returning of items

Keep for 1 year:

Paycheck stubs, until you get your W-2

•           Monthly bank, credit card, brokerage, mutual fund, and retirement account statements, unless they relate to your taxes

Keep for 7 years:

  • Any tax-supporting or related documents: receipts, deposit slips, all financial statements—if you used it to generate an amount for your taxes, keep it for 7 years
  • Tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, etc.
  • Year-end credit card statements, brokerage, and mutual fund summaries

Keep indefinitely:

  • All tax returns
  • Receipts for major purchases
  • Real estate records
  • Wills and Trusts

What to store in your safe deposit or fire-proof box: (see also Tip 68: VIPs.

  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Bonds and stock certificates
  • Vehicle titles
  • Social Security cards
  • Wills and Trusts
  • Passports
  • Property deeds
  • Marriage, business, and professional licenses

Other important items to consider:

  • College diplomas
  • School transcripts

Be sure to photocopy or scan each of these important documents before you store them!

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