It’s day one of our 21 day challenge, and the first thing we have to do is gather every scrap of paper that is using real estate in the house. I hunted high and low, and my pile can be found in yesterdays post.
You’re not ready with your pile yet? Right! Everyone, you’ve got 15 minutes to gather it all into a huge pile.
Ready? No.. not yet? You need a little more time? No problem…. (minutes are passing)
OK guys. Everyone have their piles? Yep? Great.
Seems like we are all ready to get down to business 🙂
It’s time to start SORTING the stack!
One, two, three.. ready… NO,no… hang on a minute! I just thought about something. There is something we need to talk about first!
You might be really tempted to chuck it all right smack in the middle of sorting through your papers (I know I would love that), but you should not do this.
You see! There are some personal files we need to keep, and some we should keep, in addition to the ones you want to keep.
Let’s talk about the these real quick.
My lists below are a compilation of what I have found on the web. Not everything will be applicable for everyone, I might also have missed some documents. Anyways, the lists should work as a general guideline for what we need and should keep. Now, you might not want to hang on to all, I’ll leave that up to your discretion 😉
Disclaimer! If you own a business, there are specific rules for what you need to keep. My lists are for personal documents only.
NEED TO KEEP (physical copies and data files if possible)
- Will, Power of attorney and living will
- Birth and death certificates
- Marriage license, prenups and divorce papers
- Social security information (US) or other equivalent type of documents (rest of the world)
- Proof of citizenship
- Adoption papers
- Alimony arrangements
- Child custody agreements
- Military records
- IRA information/contributions
- Retirement/Pension plan documents
- ID cards and passports
- Insurance policies (might be OK to have as physical paper in addition to any digital copy’s)
- Vehicle titles and loan documents
- House deeds and mortgage documents
- Any other loan/mortgage documents, this also includes personal loans
- Business license
In short, you’ll want to keep physical copies of things related to state/federal matters, including certifications, licenses, or deeds. Why?
1. You, might want to have easy access to these, just in case you need them.
2. If you need a physical copy and don’t have one, it’s a pain to have them replaced, since you have to make a direct request to a government agency, and we all know how “fast” they work 😉
SHOULD KEEP (data files and/or as physical copies)
These are documents you should hold on too, for a while. You don’t need to keep them as physical documents, unless you really want to. Scanned files are fine.
- Tax records and receipts, including the yearly statements you need for the tax return (Norway – IRS can go back 10 years = keep 10 years, US = 7 years – check out Forbes info on this, UK – 22 months )
- Pay stubs (keep for a year, until you can check it against your yearly statement)
- Bank statements
- Social security statements
- Annual insurance policy statements
- Retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc)
- Home purchase, sale, or improvement documents (keep as long as you own the house + at least six/seven years after you sell (for tax purposes))
- Medical records (should keep as long as they are relevant for your situation)
- Medical bills (keep at least a year after payment in case of disputes)
- Warranty documents and receipts (keep as long as you own them)
- Pictures of expensive items you own, in case you need them for an insurance claim
There are also some documents you probably should keep the most recent version of, for your own piece of mind:
- Canceled checks and bank deposit slips (until you receive your monthly bank statement)
- Bills (until you have proof that the payment was received)
I’m sure there are more I have missed, but in general A GOOD RULE OF THUMB can be to think (when deciding what to keep)
“How hard is this document to replace? Will I need to hang around a government office, hospital, bank or on a phone for hours to get hold of a copy?” Is the answer a resounding YES, then it’s probably best to hold onto it 🙂 Anything else, can probably be scanned or found as online documents.
WANT TO KEEP
Then we get to the documents/scraps of paper we want to keep. maybe they are ideas, a great article, drawing or sentimental items like old letters. You are the only one who can decide on these items. But to keep that particular pile under control, make sure the paper/document is important to you, inspires you or gives you tremendous joy (like drawing from a kid, letter from a dear one and so on).
As I mentioned before, I shred all documents before they leave the house. You should too! If not, you might risk people rummaging through your trash finding personal information about you, that they can use to empty your bank accounts, buy things on credit cards or even completely steal your identity. If you don’t own a shredder, make sure you at least tear the important stuff.
This turned out to be a long list of things to keep in mind when sorting through your papers.
To make it easier for you, I will add a printable picture/file on this tomorrow, in case you would like the overview on hand as you sort through your papers – I know I could need this 😉 Why not add it right away.. well, I haven’t made it yet.. and as it’s 11PM here, I can’t get to bed soon enough 😉
Until tomorrow everyone, until tomorrow 🙂