For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know that I am currently re-decorating and re-arranging my entire condo. My most current project has been moving my office from the back of my living room to a spare room.
In this process, I have discovered six years of bills, receipts, tax returns and various other financial records. I’m not a hoarder, and I’m very organized, but there’s just something about financial records that intimidates me.
What do I do with them? Will I need them in 10 years? Will a homeless person attempt to strike gold by deciphering my bank account (the joke would be on them, of course)?
To solve my conundrum, I turned to the financial Bible ... www.clarkhoward.com. There’s only one person I love more than myself, and that is Mr. Clark Howard. Of course, he had an entire article devoted to record, paperwork and file keeping.
Which paperwork to keep:
• Tax returns, keep forever.
• Tax return documentation, for seven years.
• Contracts, forever.
• Real estate records, forever.
• Last pay stub of a job if you leave that job.
• Last pay stub of the year until you reconcile with your W-2.
• All mortgage payment checks (statements), until mortgage is paid off.
• All student loan payments, until loan is paid off.
• Car loan payment stubs, until car is paid off.
• Canceled checks, seven years (this one shocked me).
• Bank deposit slips, until you reconcile your statements.
• Bank statements, until a calendar year; store with tax returns if they will be used as deductions.
• Home improvement records, ownership period plus seven years.
• Investment records, shred monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold on to annual statements until you sell the investment.
Which records to toss:
• Credit card statements that are more than three years old.
• Past insurance statement.
• Old utility bills, except the most recent one from your old address if you’ve moved.
• Recently paid bills (statements), once you have something saying they’ve been paid.