Records, paperwork and old files: What to keep and what to toss!

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Records, paperwork and old files: What to keep and what to toss!
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The amount of records and paperwork you should keep is actually more limited than you might think. Here’s a list of what to keep and for how long, and what to get rid of!

Read more: See the statute of limitations in your state

Keep this paperwork

  • Tax returns – Keep forever
  • Tax return documentation – The IRS says to keep for a minimum of seven years. Though depending on your individual tax situation, holding them longer may be advisable.
  • Contracts – Keep forever
  • Real estate records – Keep forever
  • Last pay stub of a job – Keep forever if you leave that job
  • Last pay stub of the year – Keep until you reconcile it with your W-2
  • All mortgage payment checks (statements) – Keep until mortgage is paid off. Disputes about balances have been known to arise when ownership of the mortgage note changes hands.
  • All student loan payments – Keep statements until the loan is paid off
  • Car loan payment stub – Keep until the car is paid off
  • Cancelled checks – Keep for seven years
  • Bank deposit slips – Keep until you reconcile your statements
  • Bank statements – Keep for the entirety of the calendar year; store with tax returns if they will be used to prove deductions, as in the case of charitable cash donations.
  • Home improvement records – Keep for anywhere from six years to forever — they can lower your capital gains tax when you go to sell.
  • Investment records – Shred monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold on to annual statements until you sell the investments.

Toss these records

  • Credit card statements that are more than three years old
  • Past insurance statement
  • Old utility bills, except the most recent one from your old address if you’ve moved
  • Recently paid bills (statements), once you have something saying they’ve been paid

Source: BankRate.com and IRS.gov

Read more: Cheapest and easiest ways to do a will

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Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust.
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