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:
- Outdated annual reports from mutual funds, stocks, and/or retirement accounts
- Outdated investment newsletters
- Brokerage statements for closed tax years
- 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).
- Insurance policies that have been cancelled
- Health insurance policies and cards that have expired
- Wills or trusts that are outdated
- Warranties that have expired
- Outdated instruction manuals
Once you’ve discarded the old and outdated papers, it will be easier to organize the remaining records.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.