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De-Clutter Your Financial Life

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In spring cleaning mode? If so, now is the perfect time to de-clutter your financial life. Organizing important papers as well as purging unnecessary ones will reduce paper clutter and stress and help you to locate what you need when you need it. Let’s get started!

Store home files as follows:

  • Current files – day-to-day records. These include bank account information, bills and receipts, loan agreements, and certain medical information. For a list of suggested categories, check out Financial Recordkeeping: Organizing Your Financial Life.
  • Permanent files – on-going records used infrequently, such as employment and education records and health benefit information.
  • Dead storage – anything you feel uncomfortable discarding, such as old tax records or real estate you’ve sold. These can be stored in less accessible drawers or boxes.

Discard the following monthly: Credit card, grocery, ATM, and debit card receipts after they appear on the statement unless they are needed for taxes, business, or proof of purchase.

Keep these items for one year:

  • Paycheck stubs – save until you compare with your W-2 and Social Security earnings statements then shred.
  • Canceled checks and bank statements – shred unless needed for tax purposes or can be retrieved online.
  • Quarterly investment statements – double-check with year-end statements then shred.

How Long to Keep Tax Records
The IRS recommends 3-6 years for income tax records, worksheets, and documentation of deductions. Keep records for as long as needed for administration of the IRS code. Tax records often are useful in situations where financial history is relevant.

Do Not Toss:

  • Birth and death certificates, adoption decrees
  • Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards
  • Military discharge papers, including spouse, even if deceased
  • Immigration documents
  • Pension plan information from current and former employers
  • Estate planning documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Titles for property still owned

De-clutter a section at a time – if the task seems overwhelming, work at it 15 minutes a day until you’re finished. Then, enjoy less stress with organized files!

Adapted from De-Clutter Your Financial Life, Julie England, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County, and Lisa Leslie, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 02/16.