Aug 24, 2022

Many of us keep documents far longer than we need to. You can declutter — and keep your personal information secure — by shredding your financial documents on a timely basis. Start with items you can shred right away. When it’s time to tackle the piles of paper, grab a box and gather up:

  • Sales receipts (except those noted below)
  • ATM receipts
  • Paid credit card bills
  • Paid utility bills

Some documents have a longer shelf life. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it’s safe to shred these documents after one year:

  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Medical bills (unless they’re in dispute)

Some documents don’t have a specific time limit. You’ll just want to keep them as long as necessary. For example, it’s a good idea to save:

  • Anything related to insurance claims
  • Auto titles for as long as you own the vehicle
  • Items under warranty until the warranty expires
  • Property deeds for as long as you own the property
  • Receipts for major home improvements until you sell your home

Keep these documents in a safe, secure place forever:

  • Adoption records
  • Birth certificates
  • Citizenship papers or passports
  • Death certificates of family members
  • Divorce decrees and any amendments
  • Marriage licenses
  • Social security cards

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends keeping all tax-related records and receipts for seven years. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally has three years to conduct an audit, but in some cases, they have up to seven years. Although the FTC suggests keeping your tax returns forever, the IRS offers these detailed guidelines

Keep your financial documents safe until you can have them shredded securely. Shredding is the safest way to discard documents to prevent fraud or identity theft. Questions? Contact a Cinfed financial coach to discuss your concerns.