Guidelines for Paperwork Storage

Many people struggle with knowing what paperwork to hang on to, how long to keep it, and what to shred. Follow these guidelines to help keep your files lean and organized.

Keep for less than one month
• Receipts for small purchases and ATM transactions—Keep until you reconcile against your checking account or credit card statements.

Keep short term (less than one year)
• Credit card, utility, cell phone, and other monthly statements until you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• If you’ll need any of these bills for tax purposes (i.e., you write off part of your cell phone bill for a small business), keep them for tax documentation.
• Loan and mortgage statements—Get rid of monthly or quarterly statements when your end of year statements arrive.
• Copy of your driver’s license
• Comprehensive list of credit union and other financial institution account numbers; credit card account numbers (in case your wallet is stolen or for another emergency)
• Old insurance claims—If the claim has been paid.
• Social security statements—Shred last year’s when you receive a new one and have reviewed for accuracy.
• Pay stubs—Purge individual pay stubs once your annual W-2 form arrives and you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• Vehicle paperwork—Keep for one year after you sell the vehicle.
• Receipts for major purchases (to use the warranty or prove value in the case of loss or damage or for items you may want to return).

Keep one year
• Hopewell Federal Credit Union checking or savings account statements. If you use Hopewell online, you might choose to not receive paper statements—account information is available 24/7 and statements are available monthly.
• Retirement plan statements: Keep quarterly statements of contributions and withdrawals for one year. Toss after matching figures with annual statement. Keep annual summaries until you retire.

Keep long term
• Tax documents to include proof of charitable contributions and tax-deductible medical expenses.
• Loan and mortgage annual statements
• Receipts and information relating to major home improvement
• If you buy or sell property, keep records of legal fees and your real estate agent’s commission for six years after you sell your house.
• Bills for major purchases

Keep indefinitely
• Birth, death, and marriage certificates
• Divorce, adoption, citizenship, military discharge, and veterans papers
• Social Security cards
• Wills and living wills
• Passports
• Diplomas
• Insurance beneficiaries
• Education records
• Immunization records
• Tax returns (1040)
• Tax forms related to retirement accounts
• Documents related to trusts or giving stock to beneficiaries
• Power of attorney
• Inheritance records
• Updated household inventory
• Proof of major debt repayment
• Legal correspondence
• Bankruptcy paperwork
• Retirement account documentation that shows contributions and withdrawals

Keep electronic data on an encrypted USB flash drive or encrypted external hard drive. You can cut down on a lot of paperwork by signing up for online statements and payments from Hopewell Federal. If you don’t have a safe deposit box, stop at Hopewell Federal Credit Union for details about this safe, affordable way to store your valuable documents.


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