Wednesday, January 11, 2012

30 before 30 update: organize files (paper & electronic), part 1

one of the things on my 30 before 30 list was to organize my paper and electronic files. a few days ago i finished the first half of that - the paper files. it was getting to the point where boxes of old pay stubs and bills were exploding in my closet. so i took a saturday morning, popped "crazy, stupid, love" into the dvd-player, and sat down with a 3-ring binder and a 3-hole punch and organized all the papers. it feels good to know i'm starting 2012 off organized in at least one small corner of my world. so, in case you're wanting to do the same, i dug around on the internet and found the general rules of thumb for record retention. i printed this guide off on a piece of paper and stuck it in the front of the binder:

Tax Returns & Backup Documentation – 7 years

Health Records – indefinitely: contact info of physician, medical history, prescriptions/treatments

Medical Records – 7 years if claimed on taxes, otherwise 5 years after end of treatment

Life Insurance – life of policy + 3 years

Medical Insurance – 5 years from date of service rendered

Home Insurance – 5 years, or 10 if you predict issues

Warranty – when expired

Home Repair Bills & Contracts – 10 years

Pay Stubs – keep each stub throughout the year. At end of year keep only year-end stub. Keep these for 7 years.

Bank Statements – 3 months

Financial Documents (stocks, bonds, etc) – indefinitely

Utility Bills – if claiming on taxes 7 years, otherwise 3 months

Mortgage Statements – ownership period of the mortgaged property + 7 years

Mortgage Documents – 10 years

Credit Card Statements – 3 months (although i suggest you go the dave ramsey route and not use credit cards, ever. at almost 29-years old, i never have.)

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