Is decluttering on your list of 2019 New Year's Resolutions? Have you been watching Netflix's new Tidying Up with Marie Kondo? Are you wondering what decluttering could possibly have to do with your credit union?
For many getting organized and decluttering is in their top 5 resolutions - even Marie has a KonMari method for dealing with papers. With so many documents to look after, you may feel confused about which ones to keep and for how long. We'll help you take the guesswork out of filing and organize your important records with these simple tips.
- Go paperless. To start your decluttering process, sign up for as many eStatements and eBills as you can. This will not only help you contain the mass amounts of paperwork you have filed, it is also safer and more secure than mailed statements.
- Invest in a paper shredder. Over 40 percent of identity theft criminals know their victims personally. Take a step toward protecting yourself by properly destroying important documents.
- Set-up an action station near your front door. It should have a recycling bin/box, your paper shredder, and some small baskets or bins for sorting. As soon as you bring in your mail, toss what you don't need in to the recycling container - flyers, advertisements, junk mail, etc. Sensitive documents should be shredded. Use the baskets to sort items that require action, like RSVPs, bills and forms and the other for things that aren't as immediate - like coupons, appointment reminders, etc.
- Keep important documents safe. Put hard-to-replace documents in a watertight container and/or fire-safe box. Then place these records in a lockable cabinet.
- Create a folder for receipts and place it in an easy-to-reach spot. At the end of every day, organize your receipts, either by date or type of purchase. When you receive a statement, check for inconsistencies, toss your receipts and start again.
- Consider buying a scanner. You can use a scanner to keep electronic copies of receipts and important paperwork so it's easily accessible, without the physical clutter.
Store personal documents in a secure place, such as a fire-safe box at home or a safe deposit box at the credit union. And remember, the following items should be kept indefinitely:
- Birth/death certificates
- Marriage certificates/divorce decrees
- Social Security cards
- Adoption and custody papers
- Citizen and naturalization papers
- Military documents
Many financial documents have different shelf-lives - some should be kept for years, while others can be destroyed much sooner. The following documents should be kept in either a safe deposit box or locked filing cabinet at home:
- Tax returns and supporting documents: Keep for at least seven years, in case you are audited.
- Credit card statements: Store for one month, unless needed for tax season; then keep for one year.
- Retirement savings statements: Keep monthly statements until the year-end statement arrives. Keep the year-end statement for at least six years.
- IRA contributions: Store permanently to prove you paid taxes on this money.
- Stocks, bonds and security statements: Keep for six years after you sell them.
- Receipts: Store until your monthly statement arrives, or longer if the item is of value or under warranty.
- Paycheck stubs: Keep for one year, until you receive your W-2 form.
- Real estate records: Keep all records of purchase, remodeling and selling indefinitely.
- Medical records: Store for one year unless deducting for taxes; then keep for six years.
- W-2 forms: Keep until you start claiming Social Security.