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Organizing:: Household Paperwork

Hi and welcome to my super fun world this week – purging, organizing and shredding the contents of our overstuffed filing cabinet!! Who wants to come help?? You know you do!! I have wine coffee!!!!

So tell me, do you have a system for doing this extraordinarily joyous task??? I have tried lots of things over the years as far as incoming mail, monthly bills, and long term household paperwork storage. Somehow, even though I have a love affair with the recycle bin, I still end up with piles upon piles of saved documents. Over the years we’ve bought and sold 5 houses and refinanced a bunch of times, opened and closed credit cards, and bought, used and disposed of many an appliance or gadget whose manuals I have held onto The time had come.

I consulted this Consumer Reports guide to decipher what to keep and what to toss and thought I’d share some snippets with you, in the event that one of your new year resolutions was get more organized at the old homefront!

Keep for a year or less and then shred:

  • Bank deposits and ATM receipts (keep until you reconcile with monthly statements).
  • Credit-card bills (unless you need to prove a charitable deduction or warranty).
  • Insurance policies (keep until your new policy comes).
  • Monthly investment statements (shred when new statements arrive).
  • Pay stubs (keep until you reconcile with your annual W-2 form).
  • Receipts you’re not using to itemize tax deductions or return merchandise.

Keep for a limited time:

  • Receipts, if you are keeping track of your spending habits, may return the item, or itemizing tax deductions.
  • If something you buy has a warranty on it, keep the receipt with the warranty until the warranty expires and then discard both.
  • Investment purchase confirmations. Save until you sell the investments, and then move the document into the file for that year’s tax returns.
  • Closing documents for a loan. Dispose of when the loan is paid off.
  • Savings bonds should be placed in a secure location until cashed in. They can also be converted to an electronic form via
  • Vehicle records, including purchase information, title, registration and maintenance should be filed until you no longer own the vehicle.
Keep forever and ever (and ever):
  • Birth and death certificates.
  • Marriage license.
  • Divorce papers.
  • Military discharge papers.
  • Estate planning documents (will, guardianship of your children, etc.).
  • Current life insurance policy.
  • Social security cards.
Here’s a handy guide you can save and print out for your home office.

Keep these documents at home

Documents When to toss them
Bank deposit slips After you reconcile your statements
Banking statements After a calendar year; store with tax returns if they will be used to prove deductions
Brokerage, 401(k), IRA, Keogh, and other investment statements Shred monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold on to annual statements until you sell the investments
Credit-card bills After you check and pay them, unless you need them to support tax filings
Employer defined-benefit plan communications Never
Household warranties and receipts After you no longer own the household items
Insurance policies After you renew them
Investment purchase confirmations and 1099s Hold until you sell the securities, then keep with your tax records for an additional seven years
Pay stubs After you reconcile them with your W-2
Receipts After you reconcile them with your credit-card or bank statement unless needed for a warranty
Safe-deposit box inventory Never, but review and update annually
Savings bonds Cash them in when they mature
Social Security statements When you get a new statement, then shred the old one
Tax returns and supporting documents After seven years


Keep these in a safe-deposit box

Documents When to toss them
Birth and death certificates Never
Estate-planning documents Never
Life-insurance policies Never, or when a term policy has ended
Loan documents After you sell your home, automobile, boat, or whatever the loan was for
Marriage licenses and divorce decrees Never
Military discharge papers Never
Social Security cards Never
Vehicle titles After you sell the car, boat, motorcycle, or other vehicle
I know – this subject is torturously boring unless you are in the process of cleaning up your files too!
Tomorrow I have a fun knockoff project to share with you!! In the meantime, have you seen this totally inspiring video that I posted on Facebook????

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Hope you are having a wonderful week, my dears!

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Tuesday 14th of September 2021

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Adelina Priddis

Thursday 16th of January 2014

I really needed this list of what to keep and toss! I feel like I'm constantly going through our filing cabinet, but never seem to get rid of anything either.

Kris @ Driven by Décor

Thursday 16th of January 2014

I went through a TON of paperwork and pitched a whole file cabinet full before our move. A horribly boring job but feels so good to be rid of it! I love the "when to toss" chart - will be pining to refer back to!


Thursday 16th of January 2014

Boy do I need to empty my filing cabinets ... I have a little shredder ... I think I need a bigger one!! Thanks for the tips! xo

pam {simple details}

Wednesday 15th of January 2014

Yes, I should definitely go through some old files, but I always find something else that's a higher priority, like thrifting or re-styling my bookcase! :) The wine offer is pretty tempting!