What Financial Records Should You Keep?

By Deborah Nayrocker

Dear Deborah: My husband and I have accumulated lots of records and financial statements over the years. We need to get rid of the unnecessary paperwork, but I don’t know where to start. Which records do we pitch and which records do we keep? – A Reader

Answer: Set aside a few days or weekends for you and your husband to sort through the papers together. As you organize your papers, sort them into three groups: what you will 1) keep, 2)  throw away, and 3) shred. Documents with personal information should be shredded.

Get rid of the following old papers:

  1. Outdated annual reports from mutual funds, stocks, and/or retirement accounts
  2. Outdated investment newsletters
  3. Brokerage statements for closed tax years
  4. Bank statements, cancelled checks and credit card-statements for closed tax years (Note: The statute of limitations is three years for income tax returns. Save your tax records for seven years if you are claiming losses from worthless securities).
  5. Insurance policies that have been cancelled
  6. Health insurance policies and cards that have expired
  7. Wills or trusts that are outdated
  8. Warranties that have expired
  9. Outdated instruction manuals

Once you’ve discarded the old and outdated papers, it will be easier to organize the remaining records. Use a file folder system where information and documents are easy to file and to store. Get started now and enjoy a more organized house!


Deborah Nayrocker is an author and columnist. She is the award-winning author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life.

Copyright by Deborah J. Nayrocker. All rights reserved.

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