Selecting Paperwork to Discard?

How do I select "what" business or personal papers to trash? (I am a "compulsive hoarder").

By PARKER1981 from Phoenix, AZ


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July 5, 20120 found this helpful

Keep credit card statements, utility bills, statements for car insurance, pay stubs, etc. about a year. Review them as you go if possible and then after a year, trash.

Keep all documents related to any real estate or businesses you still own (deeds, tax statements, etc), life insurance policies, car titles & associated paperwork (that you still own), your income tax returns, birth and marriage certificates, divorce papers, death certificates, military service papers, certain medical papers like shot records or surgeries, major accidents, other litigation items such as law suits, forever. (Some people may argue that you don't need to keep tax returns for only 7 years, actually you need to keep the related paperwork for those 7 years of returns if you itemize (in other words you can trash the itemization items, receipts, etc after 7 years), but a couple of CPAS I have known suggested that I keep the actual returns forever.) And if you ever should need one, the IRS charges a hefty fee to give you a copy and they will charge the hefty fee for every return you request.


Keep product warranties until they expire or until you no longer own the item. Keep pet paperwork until you no longer own the pet. Separate pictures and articles away from the important stuff.

Consider carefully how much info you keep. If you save recipes, articles from the newspaper, etc. You can end up with huge amounts of paper that clog up your life that you never do anything with!

I have 2 bags where I keep important papers. One is very important papers and has my tax returns, birth certificate, pass port, etc. (Which you might want to consider putting in a safe deposit box).

The other one is semi-important papers, mostly warranties and things that will eventually expire or become obsolete (rental agreements when I had an apartment), request for time off from work, etc. It helps to keep the really important away from the not so important items.


Stay on top of junk mail, by reading it as you come in the mail and tossing it right away (I recycle it.) Always open junk mail though, because occasionally it is not junk mail and you could be tossing something more important. (More than once I have found a check inside an envelope that I thought was junk mail.) If you use coupons, try to stay on top of them and use them or toss when they expire.

I have "excess" tendencies myself and I find paperwork to be one of the hardest things to manage, so be kind to yourself while you get this sorted out. Don't beat yourself up in other words. And honestly, there are very few people who are always on top of it.

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July 6, 20120 found this helpful

I purchased a file cabinet at the Thrift Store. I can file all my papers, taxes, receipts, and owners manuals, also box of photos, takes a lot less room than boxes and I can easily find what I need.


You could put it in a storage room or back bedroom in closet.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 104 Posts
July 8, 20120 found this helpful

Personally I don't know why anyone unless for business purposes, would find a need to keep credit card statements, past utility bills or old insurance statements. I keep only the most current ones and shred and trash the rest. I've been doing this for years now and, as of yet not found a need for any of them. If I ever do I can go online and print out a copy. I don't even keep appliance manuals. Most can be downloaded from the internet if I ever need one. I keep receits of large purchases. I have scanned a lot of paper documents on a thumb drive and keep originals in a safe deposit box.

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