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Whether you keep hard copies or use a digital solution for your important documents, it’s easy to end up with a mountain of paperwork, statements, and forms. While some items such as your will or a Social Security card seem like obvious contenders in the “keep forever” pile, it can be much harder to determine how long you need to hang on to credit card statements and medical bills.
In a nutshell, you don’t need to keep as many documents as you might have imagined.
If you have items you’re deducting on your tax return, such as medical expenses, purchases, utility bills, and other expenditures, you’ll want to hang on to those important papers.
Luckily, there is a lot of good information out there to help guide you in managing all your documents that come into your life. Here are some ideas from Consumer Reports to get you started:
Important Papers to Keep Checklist
Keep for a year or less – unless you are deducting an expense on your tax return:
- Monthly utility/cable/phone bills: Discard these once you know everything is correct.
- Credit card statements: Just like your monthly bills, you can discard these once you know everything is correct.
- Medical bills: These can be discarded once you know your insurance has paid the claim.
- Bank statements: Once you know your monthly statement is correct, you can toss the statement at the end of the year.
- Pay stubs: These can go after you reconcile them with your W-2 for the year. A lender may want to see a few months’ worth if you are planning to apply for a mortgage or loan. This also applies if you will be applying for grants or initiating any plans where proof of income will be important.