Personal Finance 

BVC #12 – Keeping Financial Documents [VIDEO]

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In this latest video I take a step away from the whiteboard and talk about something my wife and I did over the weekend, we consolidated our financial and personal documents. We’ve been married for about a year and a half but never went through the process of consolidating all of our important documents. In this video, I talk about how we did some hardcore spring cleaning and how long you should be keeping financial documents.

As always, everyone has slightly different opinions and one opinion I respect is that of Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner in Illinois. Just a few short weeks ago he wrote about how long you should be keeping financial documents so please read his advice as well.

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “BVC #12 – Keeping Financial Documents [VIDEO]”

  1. labelcd6 says:

    My wife and I have been married for one year, and we still need to consolidate our financial documents. You have inspired us to get moving on that!

  2. You’re right regarding the statute of limitations for fraudulent returns: It’s unlimited.

  3. Martha says:

    I would also recommend keeping the last utility bill from a previous residence. My sister, just a month ago, recieved a phone call from Comcast stating that she did not return her cable box. She had “transferred” the box to the next residents of the apartment and that infomration was written on her last cable bill. She did not keep the cable bill, or lost it somewehre in the process of moving multiple times as a college student. When Comcast called her just a month ago she had no recourse other than to complain, have them look for the box at a local return depot, or pay them $400. Bottom line: Keep you “Final Bill” to show that your account has been zeroed out after you are done with a apartment/house!

    • Shock says:

      I totally agree. I keep the last statement from all closed/cancelled accounts and any paperwork from resolved disputes indefinitely.

  4. Ketan says:

    Enjoy reading your blog. I have the first drawer in my desk for my files.

    But, when I close accounts, I put the folder in my file cabinet in the basement. I’ve been married 15 years. We have stuff in there that may be that old.

    I keep refinance paperwork down there as well. Some of it is handy to compare costs when you are doing it again.

    I need an improved way to clean up – too many files and paper. I’ve held back on going paperless as I like to see the statement as i feel I’m always looking at a computer screen – it’s too easy to miss online.

    Great work! Keep it up.


  5. Suzanne says:

    Great idea!! I have things stored that I can shred over this long week-end!

  6. Modder says:

    So have we figured out a good way to dispose of the stuff without losing your ID yet? I am still hesitant to buy ANOTHER shredder (they are all overpriced, crap out too quickly, get clogged in no time, require you to feed the stuff in unreasonably small batches … and even then the degree of security you get is not worth it – nothing a determined 3rd grader couldn’t puzzle back together).

    I have been working from home this week, and was able to watch the trash folks pick up our trash. They ripped open every bag, scanned for goodies (they found an old no-longer functional GPS I ditched, and it made their day). Took them 10-15 minutes just to get through my 2 cans of trash (not exaggerating). No way I would ever feel safe putting any paper work in the trash.

    But here I sit with ~10 lbs of highly confidential paper trash I need to dispose of (mortgage app copies with my SSN all over it etc).

    What to do? I don’t have a fire place…

    I am still thinking about turning it into charcoal (throw on gas grill in a cookie can), but the wife won’t let me.

    • Jim says:

      You need a cross-shredder, I don’t think a 3rd grader will be able to put that together.

    • Shock says:

      Find a way to burn it.

    • afronica says:

      The local governments where I live (city and county) have a shredding event once a year. Go onto your local government web sites and check under trash or refuse, or call the number listed on that web site for trash. The shred event usually means that a large truck pulls up for the day into a parking lot. Inside the truck is a mammoth shredder (either cross-cut or something that pulverizes your papers into confetti). You can even watch them throw your papers into the shredder.

  7. Shock says:

    My files are in three boxes. The first is a waterproof & fireproof safe box that holds insurance policies, credit reports, mortgage documents, wills, estate planning documents, home inventory, passports, auto titles, medical records, birth certificates, warranties, receipts, tax returns, etc.-anything that I would want to survive a flood or fire. The second box is a plastic crate that holds current documents not needing natural disaster protection. The third box is a plastic crate that holds “archived” documents – childhood awards, college transcripts, etc. I organize all the documents using the Homefile Financial Planning Organizer Kit, Here’s the description of the kit from the website “The system works by organizing hundreds of documents into 22 easy to use categories. Once you set up your kit, you just slip in new papers as they come. No more waiting until you can find the time to file. And you’ll never have to start all over again. Our kits are ever expandable to whatever your needs become.”

  8. TStrump says:

    I recently went through a consolidation project with my financial papers.
    I had 5 boxes of papers and I managed to get them to fit into 4 3-ring binders. I shredded most of the stuff I didn’t need, which was surprisingly quite a bit.
    Now, my records are easy to reference (no more flipping through boxes) and take up much less space.

  9. Jacque says:

    I have to disagree completely. I recently went through a divorce and the first thing your attorney will ask you for is 2 years of documents, i.e., bank statements, credit cards, etc. Many institutions don’t keep more then 12 months of statements on line or any where for that fact. So my advise is that for anyone who is married or thinking about marriage, make sure you have at least 2 years of ALL statememts available and retrievable.

  10. Splendor says:

    I just bought a filing cabinet and I’m excited to get all of my paperwork organized. Thanks for the video.

  11. stephen says:

    I agree that some items should be in a fire-proof safe (if you’re keeping them at home and not in a bank’s safe deposit box). But for online statements that you’ve downloaded as PDFs, you should ensure that those files are backed up as part of your regular backup strategy (you have a regular backup strategy right?). If you download your financial activity and then import the transactions into MS Money or Quicken or some other financial package, that application’s data files should also be part of your backup routine. Consider an online backup company – mozy home, for example. I don’t work for ’em, but I do use their unlimited version. They have a Pro version for businesses too. The important thing is to get a copy of your files away from your computer so you don’t have a single point of failure. Remember the 5 P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. There’s a 6th P, but this is a family newsletter so I left it out.

  12. FlyFisher says:

    Great info to know. I am often caught guessing what to keep and what not to keep. I think I will keep tax info forever. Another random thing I keep are product warranties or the like. I clear it out every once in a while for stuff I no longer have or what not, but it is nice to find out something that broke has a lifetime guarantee and you have proof! Usually all it takes is an email with a picture and you get a new one!

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