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How Long to Keep Documents

A Quick Checklist of How Long to Keep Documents


How long to keep documents

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Ikea office storage

A primer on how long to keep documents - and how to organize and store them - should serve as a quick reference guide for creating and maintaining a workable home filing system.

Store Forever
These documents should be stored forever:

  • Academic Records - Diplomas, transcripts and any portfolio work that may be used in the future when applying for a job.
  • Adoption Papers
  • Baptismal Certificates
  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates - May be needed for tax purposes.
  • Driver's Licenses
  • Employment Records - Any clauses, agreements, disciplinary files and performance reviews.
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Medical Records
  • Military Records
  • Passports
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Social Security Cards
  • Wills

Storage Options:

Horizontal Filing Cabinet (compare prices)
Vertical Filing Cabinet (compare prices)
Fire-Proof Safe (compare prices)

These documents you may touch as often as monthly or weekly:

  • Bank Statements - 1 month
  • Bills - 1 year for anything tax or warranty related, all other bills should be shred as soon as they have been paid.
  • Credit Card Bills - Shred immediately when paid.
  • Home Improvement Receipts - Keep until home is sold.
  • Investment Records - 7 years after you've closed the account or sold the security.
  • Leases - Keep until you've moved out and have received your deposit back from the landlord.
  • Paychecks / Pay Stubs - 1 year until you've received your W-2
  • Sales Receipts - Keep for the life of the warranty. Obviously, this applies only to major purchases like appliances and electronics. I typically keep receipts for things like groceries and clothing only as long as I know I am not going to need the receipt for a return.
  • Tax Documents - 7 years including your filing and all accompanying documents like W-2s and receipts.
  • Vehicle Records - Keep until boat, car or motorcycle is sold.

Make sure to have a flexible filing system set up to keep these documents in check and shred them when they are no longer necessary.

How Long to Keep
A guide to how long to keep everything in your home.

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