When you are twenty one, most of your entire life will fit in a box. As you get older, you begin to collect more boxes. After buying a car, a house, going through a few jobs, and having a few children, the amount of financial information you begin to compile can be overwhelming. People who come into our offices will sometimes walk through the door with a stack of envelopes asking the key question, “Do I have to keep all of these documents?” Here is Your Smart Money Moves guide on what originals you need to keep, what you can shred, and what you might want to store up in the cloud.
- What you should keep for your originals?
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Marriage License
- Diplomas or Transcripts
- What about the cloud?
With the proliferation of the cloud, there is much larger opportunity to store documents through an online service. I would recommend trying to get an online encrypted safety deposit box. You can always get one through www.oxygenfinancial.net or try something such as www.myvaultstorage.com. The beauty about online safety deposit boxes is that you can access your information anywhere in the world. So, what should you consider keeping in the cloud?
- Tax Returns- Keep at least seven years of anything IRS related
- Photos- For insurance purposes, you should take photos of everything valuable in your house, especially items that you have paid for insurance.
- Insurance Policies
- Brokerage Statements and confirmations – junk the three ring binder
- Benefits Booklets
- Deeds to the house
- Improvement documents for the house
- What to shred?
Before you shred anything, you might want to call the vendor and find out how long they store documents online. You will also want to ask and investigate what the cost will be to you for recovering the documents should you need them down the road. Here are just some of the documents you can shred.
- Bank statements
- Utility bills (unless you need to prove address for school)
- Warranties (especially after they expire)
- ATM receipts
- Credit Card Statements
While this list doesn’t include every single financial document you may receive, the last thing you want to do in 10 years when you move from your house is to spend an afternoon pouring through financial documents thinking about what you should keep, shred, or store. Use this list to get yourself organized today!
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.