How Long Should I Keep My Financial Documents?

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how long keep financial documentsCome tax time, we’re probably all digging through files that have been gathering dust for years: old tax returns, utility bills, credit card statements. And it happens to coincide with that time of year that brings spring-cleaning.

What better time to purge?

But then there are nagging questions: Which financial documents should I keep—and what can I dispose of? Do I need to shred, so as not to lure identity thieves?

Fear not. The suggested rules for which financial documents you should keep aren’t crazy and they aren’t written in microscopic print. We’ve got them all right here.

And there’s an even better reason to consider tackling this to-do: According to a poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, nearly one in four Americans say they’ve either lost or forgotten about an important financial document, and only 40 percent think they could locate an important document at a moment’s notice.

First, let us offer you a potential solution to that lost-doc feeling of panic: LearnVest’s Doc Vault, available to all of our premium members. There you can securely upload all of your most important financial documents, see which crucial forms you’re missing and keep them safe until the next time you need them in a hurry.

In the meantime, here are our handy suggestions for what to upload and what to dispose of:

Trash in a Few Days:

  • ATM receipts, once you record the transaction
  • Bank deposit slips, once the funds appear in your account

RELATED: 5 Easy Steps to Life Without Paper

Trash After 1 Month:

  • Receipts for things you bought on a credit card, once you get your statement, unless you need it for a return or a warranty
  • Credit card statement, unless it has a tax-related expense on it
  • Kim “Kimmay” Caldwell

    This is awesome! This came at the perfect time for me. I’m getting rid of giant bags of paperwork and totally redoing my little home office to make way for my brand new business :D I am so nervous to let go of old Student Loan statements and pay stubs, but now I’m ready to shred or recycle it all and make room for the life that I want. Thanks! Kim Caldwell (Hurray Media LLC)

  • http://Www.debtfreeindubai.com desertscrooge

    Timely read. I have 5 huge files of documents dating back to as far as 2007. Yikes! I save everything and it’s taking over my space. I was considering buying a cabinet this week but after reading this, I think I’ll just schedule a day to power through and shred whatever isn’t absolutely necessary to have.

  • Lmc

    Trash with in 1 month credit card receipt..UNLESS ITS A TAX DEDUCTION!!! I just read this from one of your other articles!!! If you purchase something for business use, say from Amazon, you will need to keep the receipt!

  • kendalinwonderland

    Aaaggggh I just want to live a paper-free life. I want my life to be me, my pets, and the things I use on a daily (or maybe weekly) basis. I’m tired of storing things. And I don’t like going through receipts every year wondering how many I can throw away. I hate carrying all this crap along with me every time I move….

  • muffiewrites

    Demorrow is correct about hard drives; but in a completely misleading way. The probabilities of recovering overwritten data (overwritten by 1 and 0 at least 3 times) is astronomical when using an electron microscope and knowing precisely what the data on the drive is and precisely how that data was written to the drive. Forensic scientist report:
    http://digital-forensics.sans.org/blog/2009/01/15/overwriting-hard-drive-data/