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Thread: To shred or not to shred?

  1. #1
    FORT Regular DreamerFish's Avatar
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    To shred or not to shred?

    Can anyone tell me what paperwork (utility bills, bank statements, credit card statements, etc) I should keep and for how long? Unfortunately, I have piles and piles and would really like to get rid of as much as I can but I'm afraid I'll shred something I should be keeping. If anyone has any expertise in this area I would really appreciate your advice

  2. #2
    clap clap clap sleepysluggo's Avatar
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    I generally keep my bills for about a year. I'm not sure if I should keep them longer than that. I do, however, hold onto my tax forms for at least two years.

  3. #3
    FORTfruity applesauce's Avatar
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    I keep tax forms and any bills / stubs / statements / donation receipts associated with those tax forms for 7 years.

    All other items, I used to keep for 7 years as well, but just went through and purged all but the last 3 years. I don't know that it is necessary to keep that long but I have had a few situations where it has come in handy...actually one situation was with my cable company. I had a dispute about a cable box that they picked up from my house in 1996. When I moved from that house in 2002 they said they never picked it up and that I owed them over $200. I went through the files, pulled the paperwork with their signature and got the charge taken off my bill.

    Actually, most of my bills are now online, so I just save the payment documentation that I print out.

  4. #4
    Peeking In Duxxy's Avatar
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    I keep all of my bills and statements from everything for 7 years .. but that's because I work from home and it's very likely that I will be audited within the next few years. Everything is sorted and put in a file for each year along with all receipts, deductions and tax forms.
    When its time to purge the 8th year I shred ALL of it .. actually we've even burned the lot of it a time or two. I'm a little paranoid about personal information
    "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

  5. #5
    Premium Member Yeti Long Shot: Porpoheus Champion
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    I had a friend who recently bought a house, so they had to get a new phone number, of course. Well, two years ago the daughter (13 at the time) had run the long distance bill up to $1600 (yikes), but they paid it, cashier's check of course. It didn't come up on the credit check to buy the house, but it came up on the credit check to get the phone turned on. Poor PR ended up paying $3200 for having a brat for a teenager. Sometimes you just don't think those things are gonna come back atcha but they do. The collection agency was notified immediately, and PR's checking account was frozen until the bill was paid. Again. I think I'll pay attention to that one and keep receipts. I, too, pay most of mine on line, but I still print my receipt.

  6. #6
    FORT Fogey joeguy's Avatar
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    you should keep all tax records for 7 years at least, cause on an audit by the nazi IRS, they will go back 7 years on you if they want.

  7. #7
    FORT Regular DreamerFish's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for answering -- you've all been very helpful Now to get my rear in gear and sort through this stuff. :rolleyes It would be so much easier if we (people in general) didn't have to worry about someone possibly stealing our indentity! I could just take it to the dumpster as is. But, being extremely paranoid myself, I'll be doing lots of shredding!

  8. #8
    Cy Young 2010 Mariner's Avatar
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    7 years is probably the safest rule. The statute of limitations for income tax returns in the U.S. is normally 3 years. However, if you have substantially understated your tax liability, the statute is 6 years. That's why 7 years makes some sense.

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