Bills, mortgages, bank statements, brokerage statements, credit card statements—being an adult certainly does require a lot of paperwork. Here is a guide for how long you should keep different kinds of financial records before putting them through the shredder (and yes, it should be the shredder, not the trash).
Tax Documents: Keep tax-related records for seven years. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can audit you for three years after you file your return if it suspects a good-faith error, and the IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
Property Records: If you are a homeowner, you should keep documents related to the purchase of your home, as well as records of substantial improvements you have made. Keep these on hand for at least six years after you sell the home. Also, it’s important to keep records of the expenses you may have incurred in buying or selling your home.
Mortgages and Other Loans: Keep documents related to mortgages and other types of loans, such as student loans or auto loans, at least until you have paid off the loan. It might be wise to keep these documents indefinitely in the event you are questioned about whether or not you have repaid your loan.
Bank Records: It’s a good idea to go through your checks once a year and to keep those related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements, and mortgage payments.
Credit Card Receipts and Statements: When your monthly statement comes in, you should check it against any physical receipts or bank records that record your purchases. After that, feel free to send them to the shredder.
Brokerage Statements: We always recommend holding on to quarterly brokerage statements until you have the annual summary in hand to make sure they match up. It’s also wise to keep records of purchases and sales of securities in case you need to prove capital gains and losses at tax time.
Bills: Bills, bills, bills. If you’re like most people, they make up the bulk of what’s in your files. It is okay to shred most bills as soon as your payment clears. If you’ve made some big-ticket purchases, keep the bill as long as you have the item. You never know when you’ll need to substantiate an insurance claim in the event of loss or damage.
Remember, as clients of Stewardship Advisors LLC, you can drop off any items you would like shredded and we will add it to our secure shredding service.