Remember that organizing phase we went through last summer? We had our post-it notes, markers, boxes, and piles of papers. After a little time and lots of elbow grease, we streamlined our files and purged everything we didn’t need. All that paper shredding and it keeps coming back! So, it’s time to revisit our work and perform a little annual upkeep.
Let’s say you have accumulated a small collection of papers yet to be filed. Hey, it happens.
Let’s get to it!
Begin by creating three categories: long term filing, short term filing, and disposal.
The first group includes important documents to be kept long term. Consider investing in a fire-safe box or safe deposit box for legal or difficult to replace document such as:
- Birth, death certificates
- Adoption records
- Marriage license
- Business license
- Divorce decree
- Social Security Cards
- Pension plan documents
- Any insurance policy
- Living wills
- Powers of attorney
- Vehicle titles and loan documents
- House deeds and mortgage documents
- Academic records, diplomas, transcripts
The next group contains items that should be files kept for a shorter time period:
- Tax records and receipts (seven years)
- Pay stubs and bank statements (one year or until you receive your W-2)
- Home purchase, sale or improvement documents (six years after sell date)
- Medical records and bills (one year after final payment in case of dispute)
- Warranty documents and receipts (until warranty expires or as long as you own item)
These items can be limited to your most recent statements:
- Social security
- Annual insurance policy
- Retirement plan
The last group are items you can dispose of immediately in a safe, secure manner.
Think of anything with personal information including name, address, phone number, social security number, or bank account information.
- ATM receipts
- Bank statements
- Birth certificate copies
- Canceled and voided checks
- Credit card bills
- Credit reports
- Expired driver’s licenses, state IDs, visas, passports, credit cards
- Pre-approved credit card applications
- Transcripts with identifying information on them
- Used airline tickets
- Utility bills (telephone, gas, electric, water, cable TV, Internet)
Time for paper shredding – don’t forget the Peanut Butter!
After you have collected the important papers you can now dispose of (say tax returns from eight years ago, or medical bills from two years ago) and a recent flurry of pre-approved credit card applications, do not drop them in the recycling bin.
Plan to bring them to a Community Shred Event hosted by Dane County Credit Union. In exchange for donating a non-perishable food item to the Community Action Coalition. DCCU and Pellitteri will safely and securely dispose of your sensitive documents. Mark your calendar for July 16, August 13, and September 24 and click here for event locations.