|Opinions wanted - Document Retention Policy?
||[Dec. 6th, 2009|03:46 pm]
... which is a formal way of saying "how long do I have to keep this stuff??" (x-posted from Facebook)
I've been looking for the title to my car, for the past ~24 hours. With a break last night to go hang out in Boston, and a very nice lunch break today... and I'm fairly positive the title is in my safe deposit box. But I wanted to make sure before I go out to Framingham during banker's hours...
So - for those of you who know my (*cough*) filing system, I basically have a pile of papers & envelopes that consist of every piece of mail that has come into my house that I might need. Then I have a pile of papers, folders & envelopes which is "really important stuff". Then I have a pile of papers that is "stuff for taxes". This discussion revolves around the first pile.
So I took that huge pile (maybe 15-18"!!!) and went through it yesterday/today, and then branched out to the boxes of papers from when I lived in Framingham (papers from ~2000-2006) and Burlington (2006-2008), and have separated most of it into the following piles:
1) Fastlane statements
- statements from my toll transponder
2) Bank Statements/papers
- mostly accounts I still have open
3) Investment Statements/papers
- mostly accounts I still have open
- Current (Vonage / AT&T Wireless / Electricity / Cable / Water&Sewer)
- Former Residences (VZW, VZ, Gas, Electric, Cable, etc.)
- Current (Landscaping, cleaning, mortgage, property taxes, excise taxes)
- Former (Framingham or Burlington)
- Current policies
- Former expired policies
7) Credit Card Statements/papers
- Current accounts
- Former accounts
- Pay stubs
- Offer letters
- co-payments, bills
10) "Personal Stuff"
- Birthday/holiday cards, wedding invitations/thank-you's, etc.
11) Misc. Stuff of Interest
- printouts / photocopies of articles & stuff I can't just download
12) Invoices & packing lists from stuff I've ordered
So, let's start off by saying that category 11 will never be thrown away (for small values of 'never'), and category 12 has been put into an industrial-sized trashbag and will go out in the trash/recycling soon...
1) Fastlane - I think I can throw these out as if it were junk mail, once I've reviewed each months' for accuracy (when it arrives)
2) Bank Statements. I think I'll file these by year. How many years should I keep? Shred the rest?
3) Investment Statements. Same as #2
4) Utilities. No clue. I THINK I can toss everything that's been closed, for prior residences, immediately. I'm not sure why I'd need to keep current ones either, except for historical comparisons. Any thoughts?
5) Household. I should probably keep the formal ones (town/tax related) for current residence. Any thoughts about the older ones? This includes auto excise bills. Old landscaping/plowing bills I don't think I'd need to keep. Definitely not from older residences (I think those are already in the trash bag)
6) Insurance. Keep the current, keep the prior. Any reason to hold onto older ones? Especially for places I no longer live? What about notices of claims (e.g. replacing the glass when someone threw a rock through the rear window a few years back)?
7) Credit Cards - Same as #2
8) Jobs - There's not enough here for me to worry about it, other than pay stubs. I have the W-2s filed with my taxes for each year/job, so I'll probably shred all of the pay stubs...
9) Medical - Happily I've never spent NEARLY enough on medical expenses to deduct them (and they'd be filed with taxes if I did). Shred them? Keep them? How many years' back? (this is all appointments & bills, not results of blood tests, etc. Relevant 'medical history' is kept in the stack of important papers.)
Anyone have opinions (educated, or strong, or both) on these types of papers?
Does anyone (other than Seth the Contrarian) think that I should hold onto the various packing lists / invoices from Amazon, Buy.com, NewEgg, Best Buy, etc.? And if so, for how long?
Thanks for your opinions! ;-)