“Honey, where’s that ATM receipt I left on the counter last week?”
“Ma’am, we’d be happy to accept this insurance claim, if you can produce the policy that is under your late husband’s name.”
“Mr. Smith, we’re writing to inform you that you are being audited due to discrepancies in your tax returns and bank statements…”
Receipts, bank statements, credit card terms, insurance policies, deposit slips, government tax forms, financing offers, warranties, manuals, brokerage financial statements… the paper trail is endless!
The pile-up of paper never seems to cease, but unkempt stacks are made ever-apparent during tax season when you are forced to play a frustrating game of ‘I spy’ in order to bundle all the correct paperwork together in order to appease your accountant.
If you are able to commit to staying organized 11 months out of the year, when April arrives, you will thank yourself!
Instead of organizing your paper trail in categories of ‘what is this?’ try organizing based on ‘how long to keep this?” It has been suggested that filing your papers based on the following time periods will help you locate documents quicker, and on the other end, dispose of documents in a timely fashion.
- 1 year or less: atm receipts, deposit slips, pictures of cashed checks
- 1 year or longer: loan documents, short term investment paperwork
- 7 years: if the government finds that you have failed to report all of your gross income, they have 6 years to collect the tax or start legal proceedings. Keeping all tax records for at least 7 years is the safe choice.
- Forever: birth/death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards, insurance policies, and an inventory of what is in your safe deposit box
Once a year, do a large ‘clean-out’ of each folder and make sure each document is living in the correct space. Sometimes documents need to be promoted to a more long-term folder, while some documents that have been in long-term storage can now be demoted to the exit pile. When cleaning out each folder, anything that is ready to go needs to be shredded. If it was important enough to be filed, it is important enough to be shredded!
Being organized and timely about your personal documents and finances is an intentional choice. Developing an organizational strategy and taking the extra effort to stick with your plan will save you many headaches. No one enjoys the panicked feeling of not being able to locate an important document; and it can be avoided!
Document Destruction is here to support your organizational plan. We applaud your efforts to stay on top of your personal documents and finances, and can come at whatever frequency you need to stay organized. If you are in Dayton, the Greater Cincinnati area, or Lexington, and would like to discuss, document destruction services, give us a call today.