Guidelines for Retention of Documents
Is your file cabinet bursting at the seams? Do you keep papers because you’re not sure if you will need them in the future? Are there stacks of file boxes in your home taking up much needed space? Armed with the guidelines below and a quality shredder you can confidently sort through your paperwork and set up a systems that will simplify filing and prevent overwhelm.
Before beginning, it’s worth investing in a good cross-cut or confetti shredder that can handle several papers at once. Check the description of the shredder for the estimated lifespan (total number papers it can shred over time) and be sure to purchase oil for shredders. The machine should be oiled on a monthly bases or after a particularly large paper purge. If you do this regularly, it will help to extend the life of the machine. You can expect to pay about $100 to $140 for a decent home shredder.
What to Keep for 2 Years or Less
- Bank records: File statements for the calendar year and keep until tax time. Keep deposit and ATM receipts until you reconcile them with your monthly statements
- Credit card bills: After you have checked them and paid them, shred bills unless you need to prove a tax deduction.
- Insurance policies: Keep policies that are renewed each year. When you have renewed the policy, shred the old one.
- Investments statements: Keep annual statements until you sell the investments. Once the new monthly statement arrives, you can shred the old one or keep for one calendar year if you prefer to track the details.
- Pay stubs: Keep for one calendar year until you reconcile them with your T-4 form and then shred them.
- Warranties: Write the expiry date so that it’s easy to see at a glance and toss once they have expired.
Personal Tax Returns
Keep your tax returns and supporting documents for seven years. Documents related to your tax return may include receipts, bank statements, and investment statements.
- Vehicle records: Keep purchase receipts and registration information in a fireproof or safe-deposit box for as long as you own the vehicle. File maintenance and repair records until you sell the vehicle.
- Savings bonds: Keep in a secure place until they are paid off.
Documents To Be Kept Permanently
- Birth and death certificates
- Marriage license
- Divorce decrees
- Social Insurance and current health card
- Estate planning documents: will, power of attorney, life insurance policies
- If your have a safety deposit box, keep a list of its contents, the location of the box, and the keys.
- Adoption papers
- Immigration papers
Quick Tips On Shredding
I like to shred anything that has my name and address on it, including medication labels, and junk mail. If you are still unsure what to shred, consider how easy it would be to retrieve a copy if you did shred it. For example phone and utility bills can set up online and easily retrieved. If you have boxes and boxes of papers to shred, you can take it to a local store that offers this service or call one of the larger companies such as Blue Pencil or Shred-It to pick up your boxes.