How Long is Too Long?

Over the weekend while cleaning out my home office, I found a few boxes of old files and statements from 2011! I don’t know how I missed these last spring when I did a paper cleanout. I started to convert all paper documents to online versions. It’s a great way to go green and it doesn’t take up space in my house. Do you have boxes of documents that have been hiding in the corner collecting dust too? If you do, then it’s time for a summer cleaning session. Yay….not really.

Documents to hold less than a year

  •           Bills: utility/cable/phone/internet
  •           Medical bills
  •           Bank statements

    The first two boxes I found had all of the above documents but from 2011. These are usually shredded and properly disposed yearly after tax season. But I guess between working, moving and all of the other daily life tasks, these were overlooked. I wonder what else I’ll find….

Longer than a year

  •           Tax returns
  •           Retirement plan statements
  •           Insurance policy
  •           Home related documents

Luckily, I didn’t find any of these files that needed to be kept. But I did find some old insurance policies on my old car and house that contained important personal information that would have been very bad if other people got their hands on them (identity theft). So now, I need to shred these files before throwing them away. My rule of thumb for these types of files is to store close to my “keep forever” files and go through them yearly.


  •           Loan papers
  •           Titles
  •           Identity identifying documents – passport, driver licenses, birth certificate, etc.

You should always keep these documents unless you’re selling your car/home then you have to hand over the title. Other than that, you’ll want to keep these documents locked away in a safe place. If these documents fall into the wrong hands, it can lead to identity theft. Here are some Tips to Protecting Your Identity.

Most companies are now converting to e-statements but they usually have it for a certain time period. If you like to keep your stuff on your computer, then make sure to periodically back it up to an external hard drive or the cloud in case your computer shows you the blue screen of death.