Drowning in Paperwork?
Published On March 24th, 2011

Are you meticulous about your paperwork? Do you file your financial paperwork, keeping every paper that has crossed your desk for at least the last seven years? At this point, you may be drowning in paperwork. How much of that paperwork do you actually need?
Here are a few things you can get rid of:

  • Bank Statements – most financial institutions allow you to download your statements for the past 7-10 years. Save the file and ditch the hard copy.
  • Receipts – After a few months, you’re probably not going to return the item. If you need the receipt for tax purposes, scan it and save it in your files.
  • Pay Stubs – Once you get your year-end statement, get rid of all those papers.
  • Bills – You may need your phone, utility or internet bills for your year-end tax purposes. Again, scan them and ditch the hard copy.
  • Insurance Claims – If the claim was paid, shred it after a year.

And a few things you should keep:

  • Your tax returns, just the returns. You can shred your supporting documents after the time frame for an audit has passed.
  • Documents related to an asset should be kept for seven years longer than you own the asset.
  • Loan paperwork – Keep the year-end summaries until the loan is paid off, then keep the statement showing the loan has been paid off.
  • Forms related to your retirement accounts – keep them until the account is drained.
  • Personal Documents – birth certificates, marriage certificates, military discharge papers, etc. – should be kept for life.

Make sure you keep good backups. Whether you keep papers or not, you should scan them and keep a copy off-site. If you store all of your documents on your computer, make sure you back up your system regularly, by saving to CD, external hard drives, or using online backup services.

Once you’ve cleaned up your current pile of paperwork, keep it under control by going paperless wherever possible. Many companies even offer discounts or incentives if you receive your billing statements electronically. You can save a copy automatically and eliminate the step of scanning

Robert Weinberg is one of the nation’s leading experts on debt elimination and credit management. Robert can be reached at 888-456-5635 or by email at RW@YourDebtResource.com. Be sure to check out Robert’s blog at YourDebtResource.com. Don’t forget to sign up for our weekly Debt & Credit Strategies newsletter. Looking for help with your current debt situation? You are encouraged to take part in our Free Debt Analysis.

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