Any victim of identity theft, fire, or flood will be glad for the time taken in advance to file and store critical records. And, if you’ve ever had to settle the estate of a friend or loved one, you’ll be relieved if you find official records in one, organized location.
Experts say that most Americans handle over 700 pounds of paper every year. Most of these documents can be touched once, and then recycled. Yet we all have some valuable identification records, financial statements, contracts or receipts that we ought to file and store in a safe place for easy retrieval later on.
Here’s a quick guide to evaluate what records you should keep — and for how long — when sorting through the growing amount of paperwork arriving each year.
One year or less
Most of these records can be safely shredded after just one year or less:
• Pay stubs and bank statements.
• Annually updated Social Security statements.
• Annual insurance policy statements.
• Annual retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc.).
• Bank deposit and ATM receipts until reconciled with your monthly statements.
• Credit card bills and statements. Longer if needed as proof of a charitable contribution or product warranty.
• Utility bills.
Keep thank-you letters from charities and year-end investment statements, in case of IRS audit.
Keep documents showing home sale, purchase, or expenses for improvements for six years after you sell your home.
Keep state and federal tax records and receipts for seven years, saving a copy of your 1040 tax return forever.
What to keep
So what documents should you keep only until they’re sold or updated, and what should you never shred? Get the full list here
Shred it, free!
STCU’s next free shred day, in partnership with KHQ, will be held April 29 in North Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Liberty Lake. Get the details here
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