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10 Documents Not to Throw Away

Retirement plan statements

Keep the quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary and if everything matches up, you can shred the quarterly statements. Keep the annual summaries until you close the account.

IRA contributions

If you made an after-tax contribution to an IRA, you will need to keep your records indefinitely to prove that you already paid tax on the money when it is time to make a withdrawal.

Brokerage statements

You must keep these until you sell the securities covered by them to prove whether you have capital gains or losses for your tax return. If you hold stocks or bonds for many years, you will need to keep the statements. The exception is if the cost basis and date of acquisition is listed on the statements. In this case, you only need to keep the year-end statements to support your tax return.

Bank records

Keep any checks or statements related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements, or mortgage payments.

Tax Tips for Caregivers: Claiming a Parent as a Dependent


Keep bills until you receive the canceled check or credit card statement showing that your payment was received. Be sure to keep bills for big purchases like jewelry, furniture, art, appliances, cars, computers, etc. so that you can prove the value of these items to your insurance company in the event they are lost, stolen, or destroyed in a covered disaster such as a fire.

House/condo records

Keep all records documenting the purchase price and the cost of all improvements, as well as records of expenses incurred in selling and buying the property for seven years after you sell it.

Credit card receipts and statements

Keep original receipts until your statements come and then match them up. You can then discard the receipts. Keep the statements for seven years if they document taxórelated expenses.

Paycheck stubs

Keep until you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer(s) and make sure the information matches. If it doesn’t match, request a corrected W-2 from your employer(s).

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Using the above guide, you should be able to clear out the bulk of your saved paperwork and then establish a system for keeping up with things over time. Remember, you can obtain many of these documents in electronic format, or you can scan them and archive them electronically. If the task seems overwhelming, you might want to consider the help of a daily money manager or professional organizer.

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Important Paperwork: What to Keep and For How Long originally appeared on


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+ add your own
2:06PM PST on Nov 29, 2012


6:56PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

I apparently keep way too much!! I guess better to keep it than to throw it away and need it later...

5:07PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Good to know -- thank you.

11:31AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

The safe is a good idea. It's a good idea to keep things such as a passport, birth certificate, etc and any will or living will in there too.

10:13AM PST on Jan 25, 2012


9:11AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

If you can get a small 'fire-safe', they aren't too expensive and will protect those documents that are important to you in event of a fire and will also keep them tidy. We find room for other bits and bobs that we'd hate to lose in the event of a fire.

4:26AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Thinking about it. I would add ID info, will and medical directives in a prominent accessible place.

4:21AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

great guide.

2:50AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Thanks for the information.

9:03PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Excellent, EXCELLENT article full of timely and wise advice. Thank you from the fullness of my heart.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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