When we store food well past its expiration date, it starts to stink. That bad smell reminds us to put it in the trash. But unlike food, documents don’t send a clear and obnoxious signal when they should be thrown out. The staggering volume of paperwork clutters our homes. But it doesn’t have to. The table below shows five bulky records we tend to keep past their usefulness.
WHEN TO SHRED THEM
|Credit card bills and receipts||After you check and pay each bill, unless needed for your tax return or a warranty.|
|Bank statements||At the end of each calendar year, unless needed to support your tax returns.|
|Pay stubs||After you verify them against your annual W-2 statement.|
|Tax returns and supporting documents||After seven years. But see the exception below if you keep investment documents with your tax returns.|
|Investment purchase confirmations and 1099s||Seven years AFTER you sell the securities.|
Of course if you have the time and equipment, creating electronic versions of your paper records is a great way to eliminate clutter. Want to learn more about the “shelf life” of various documents? This post was inspired by a Consumer Reports article that you can find here.