Financial Clutter: What to Keep and What to Get Rid Of

Updated: May 11

As we move past tax season, it's the perfect time to organize your financials. But where do you start? If you have boxes full of bank statements or investment summaries, you might be a little unsure on how long to keep everything.


Below you will find our guide for how long you should store all of your important documentation. This will help you to reduce your financial clutter.

What to keep until the warranty expires or the return period is passed:

Sales receipts - unless you need them for tax purposes, and then you should keep them for three years.


What you should keep for one month:

ATM printouts - These can be discarded after you balance your checking account each month.


What to keep for one year:

Paycheck stubs - These can be thrown away once they have been compared to your W-2 and your social security statement.

Utility bills - These can be thrown away after one year, unless you are claiming a home office. If you are, then they need to be saved for three years.

Cancelled checks - If these are needed for tax purposes then they should be saved for three years.

Credit card receipts - If these are needed for tax purposes then they should be saved for three years.

Bank statements - If these are needed for tax purposes then they should be saved for three years.

Quarterly investment statements - Keep until you receive your annual statement.


What to keep for three years:

Income tax returns - Keep in mind that you can be audited by the IRS for up to three years after filing your taxes. If you don’t file a tax return at all, there is no statute of limitations.

Medical bills and canceled insurance policies

Records of selling a house - You will need this for capital gains tax

Records of selling a stock - You will need this for capital gains tax

Receipts, canceled checks, or other documents supporting income, or deductions on your taxes - Keep for three years from the date the return was filed, or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.

Annual investment statement - Keep for three years after you sell your investment.


What to keep for seven years:

Records of satisfied loans


What to keep while active:

Contracts

Insurance documents

Stock certificates

Property records

Stock records

Records of pension and retirement plans

Property tax records and disputed bills - Keep the bills until the dispute is resolved.

Home improvement records - Hold for at least three years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset after it’s sold.


What you should keep forever:

Marriage licenses

Birth certificates

Wills

Adoption papers

Death certificates

Records of paid mortgages