- Toss immediately: Credit card solicitations; marketing material included in bank and credit card statements.
- Throw out after one month: ATM receipts; prospectuses and other information about investments you're considering; receipts for purchases, assuming you're keeping them or there's no warranty.
- Throw out after one year: Bank statements; brokerage statements; cell phone, cable, telephone and Internet statements (except when deducting for work-related expenses); credit card bills; pay stubs; social security statements; utility bills.
- Throw out after seven years: Childcare records; flexible spending account documentation; 401(k) and other retirement plan year-end statements; IRA contributions; purchase records for investments; records of charitable donations; records on houses you've sold; tax returns and backup documentation.
- Keep as long as you have the underlying asset: Insurance policies; receipts for important purchases; receipts for renovations or other investments made in your property; titles; warranty papers.
- Keep forever: Adoption papers; appraisals; birth certificates; citizenship papers; custody agreements; deeds; divorce papers; financial aid documents; military records; powers of attorney (medical and financial); stock certificates; wills/living wills.
What else can you do quickly, cheaply and easily?
- Pay your bills online. It saves you time, money and clutter. You can schedule certain repetitive bills to be paid every month and easy enter variable bills as they come.
- Remove yourself from the junk mail lists. Send a letter or postcard with your name, home address and signature to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
- Create a place for receipts. Make a compartment in your wallet into the holding pen for receipts you need for expense records or tax purposes.