Filing and storing essential records is key to keeping your home organized. Filing is pretty simple – use the alphabet or if possible, scan records and save files digitally to save space. If you choose to use a digital filing system, be sure files are backed-up on an external drive.
But how long do you keep records? Here are some helpful tips:
Bills: Keep until you receive the next month’s bill showing your payment was appropriately applied. Be sure to shred all bills instead of just throwing them away because bills contain identifying information and credit card numbers. If the bill is for a large purchase (jewelry, home repairs, etc). keep the bill as long as you have the item purchased in a file relating to that item.
Bank Statements: Many of us get our bank statements online, so storage isn’t an issue, but if you get paper statements, keep the statements until your account has been balanced. Like bills, if the statement shows the purchase of a large item or anything that may relate to taxes or a business, file the statements with those categories and keep them as long as you have the item or business.
Tax Records: Tax returns should be kept for at least 3 years, but for your protection it is recommended that you keep the records for 7 -10 years.
Retirement Contributions: Keep these records indefinitely
Brokerage Statements: Keep these records until you sell the securities or close out the accounts. If there are tax implications file the records with the tax year they relate to and store for the recommended time for tax records.
Paycheck Stubs:Whether paper or electronic, save the records until you get your W-2 for that year and have verified that all the information is correct.
House Records: Keep records on the purchase, financing or refinancing, and any improvements made on a home until you sell the home. Save records relating to the sale of a home with the tax year paperwork that the sale effects.
Medical Records: See the article on organizing medical records for information about how to put these things together. Keep medical records permanently.
Receipts: If receipts have tax implications, file with the corresponding year. If the item relates to a large or warrantied purchase, file the receipt with other information about the purchase. Otherwise, once items have cleared you bank account for the correct amount, receipts can be thrown away.