In the book You Don’t Have to Be Rich, author Jean Chatzky offers a list of financial papers that you need to keep, and how long you should keep them:
- ATM receipts and receipts for purchases – Keep them until you get your monthly bank and credit card statements and make sure they reconcile, then keep the monthly statement and throw out the individual slips (unless you want to keep the receipts in case you need to return an item).
- Bills and bank and brokerage statements, including canceled checks – Keep until you get your year-end statement, check it over to make sure everything reconciles, then throw out the monthlies and keep the annual.
- A list of credit cards, account numbers, and the 800 numbers you’d use to report a loss or theft – Keep these indefinitely.
- A list of items in your safe deposit box, with a running account of what you put in and take out – Keep indefinitely.
- Tax returns – Keep for six years, unless they include information on the purchase or sale of a home or an IRA, in which case keep them forever.
- Receipts for appliances and home improvements – Keep until you sell the home.
- Warranties – Keep until they expire.
- Employment records, including letters of recommendation – Keep indefinitely.
- Receipts for large purchases – Keep indefinitely for insurance purposes in case of a fire or other home emergency.
- Year-end brokerage statements or other documents related to buying and selling stock – Keep indefinitely, as you may need them to account for your cost basis.
- Insurance policies – Keep for as long as you own the policy.
- Deed to your home – Keep for as long as you own the home.
- Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents – Keep indefinitely.
Of course, you’ll want to have a good filing system for organizing and keeping track of your financial records, so you can find them when you need them.
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