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Important Docs: What to Keep and What to Shred

With all the junk mail we get these days it becomes hard to know what you need to keep and what can be shredded and thrown away. So let’s go over some of the important documents you need to keep.

We recommend getting a filing box and putting a few tabbed folders in there to make things easy to find. Sorting through the various paperwork of your financial life is an excellent first step in taking control of your money situation.

Folder 1: Certificates

Birth Certificates for self, spouse, kids etc.
Death certificates of relevant family members
Marriage license
Passports/ ID Cards
Vehicle Titles

Folder 2: Social Security

Keep your social security cards here (or in a safety deposit box)
You don’t have to keep the annual social security summary that comes in the mail.

Folder 3: Wallet Back-ups

Make a copy of everything in your wallet...both sides of each item. 

Folder 4: Insurance

Save the original document and each year keep the newest statement. 
          -shred the previous year's statement

Folder 5: Property

House Deeds
Mortgage document (original)
You don’t have to keep each months statement as those are available online if needed.
Receipts from home improvements made - keep for 6 years after property is sold

Folder 6: Medical

Medical records & bills
Living Will/Healthcare proxy

Folder: 7 Warranty

If you have any special warranty plans, file the original document here

Folder 8: Tax Records & Receipts

This is a folder to hold receipts and proof of charitable contributions for the current tax year. If you use mint.com or a similar cashflow management system, you'll be able to refer back there as well at tax time.

We suggest filing the previous year's tax documents in another location because it can be a lot to fit into one file folder. You need to keep a copy of your filed taxes and supporting documentation (like all those receipts you deducted) for 7 years.

Folder 9: Banking

You don’t need to keep each bank statement or account opening docs.
If you have any disputes with your bank, you should keep proof of those in email or in this file.

Folder 10: Investment Accounts

Account opening docs
Copy of contract with investment advisor

You don’t need to save your annual or monthly statements here but a copy of your year-end tax statement should be saved with your taxes. 

A couple of things to look out for in the mail:

January – April

Year-end bank statements
1099 statements from investment accounts
W2 from work
K-1s if you have a partnership or S-Corp

Year Round

Updated insurance documents
New credit and debit cards
          -destroy/cut up expired credit and debit cards

Happy shredding!