Do you ever feel like you’re buried under a pile of paper? Even in today’s electronic world, there are many documents you receive in paper form and need to keep. Follow these tips to stay organized and keep paper under control.
Keep it forever. Some personal records and documents related to state or federal matters need to be retained indefinitely. This includes birth or death certificates, Social Security cards, a marriage license, wills, property deeds, and licensing documents that don’t expire.
Keep for a while. In this category are tax records and receipts (keep for 7 years), warranty documents (as long as you own the product), and vehicle titles (until you sell the car). If you receive paper copies, keep your pay stubs, bank statements, and medical records/bills for a year, although archived copies are often available online through your employer, bank, or health insurer.
Keep only the most recent one. This category includes Social Security statements, annual insurance policy statements, retirement plan statements, and similar documents. Again, you may be able to obtain some of these statements online as well.
Keep until they clear your bank account. This includes ATM receipts, utility bills, credit card charge slips and statements, and check duplicates.
Don’t keep. Everything else! Be sure to shred any documents with personal information on them.
Have a designated place to keep all important papers—a filing cabinet, drawer, or closet—and use folders to file documents by type. You may want to consider a safe or safe deposit box for those “forever” documents.
To stay organized, deal with the papers right away when they come into the house. File what needs to be kept and recycle or shred the rest. It’s much easier to deal with documents right away than to sift through a stack that’s a few months old.