Person filing documents in a filing folder

When it comes to recordkeeping, do you feel like a packrat, storing years of bank statements in the back of your closet? Or maybe you don’t store enough and find yourself wishing you’d have kept those receipts during tax season. With so many documents to look after, you may feel confused about which ones to keep and for how long. Take the guesswork out of filing and organize your important records with these simple tips.

Personal Documents

Store personal documents in a secure place, such as a fire-safe box at home or a safe deposit box at First Commonwealth. And remember, the following items should be kept indefinitely:

  • Birth/death certificates
  • Passports
  • Wills
  • Marriage certificates/divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards
  • Adoption and custody papers
  • Citizen and naturalization papers
  • Military documents
  • Diplomas/transcripts
  • Financial Documents

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.  

Organizing Tips

Take a step toward protecting yourself by properly destroying important documents. 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 receipts 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.

Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft 

Bring your documents to our FREE Shred EVENT. Shred your documents with personal information on them instead of just recycling.

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