Time to Tame Financial Clutter

You might feel like pitching those invoices and statements piling up on the counter. Before your paper shredder goes to work, check this list on how long to keep financial records. Then, consider opting for electronic statements from banks and brokers who offer them.

Keep these records for the calendar year:

  • Bank statements
  • Pay stubs (consider autopay direct to your bank account)
  • Social Security benefits statements
  • Investment/broker statements, including 401(k) plans


Keep these documents for 7 years:

  • Tax returns and supporting documents
  • Bank statements needed to prove a deduction on a tax return


Keep these docs forever:

  • Employer-defined benefit plan communications
  • IRA contributions
  • Brokerage statements (document gains/losses until sale)
  • Life insurance policies (most recent copy)
  • Loan documents (until paid and you have title)
  • Home improvement records/receipts (keep 7 years after you sell)
  • Savings bonds (you can convert paper bonds to electronic)
  • Safe deposit box inventory
  • Household inventory
  • Photos of possessions


Keep these until you’ve reconciled your statement:

  • Bank deposit slips
  • Credit card receipts
  • Monthly bills and credit card statements
  • Keep statements and receipts you may need to prove tax deductions.


Some documents you might rarely need, but should keep forever:

  • Adoption papers
  • Citizenship papers
  • Divorce papers
  • Lawsuits
  • Military discharge
  • Veteran’s papers
  • Birth certificates
  • Cemetery deeds
  • Real estate deeds
  • Death certificates
  • Diplomas
  • Guardianship arrangements
  • Health records
  • Immunization records
  • Marriage certificates
  • Medical directive
  • Naturalization certification
  • Passports
  • Powers of attorney
  • Social Security cards
  • Stock/bond certificates
  • Vehicle titles
  • Trusts
  • Wills

There’s a great infographic on my Pinterest page, with tips to organize your finances.