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Paperwork Piling Up? What to Shred and When

Knowing when to discard common household records, go paperless and shred documents is the key to victory over clutter.

by Navy Federal on April 19, 2017

  • Banking Records

    ATM and Deposit Slips: Keep until reconciled with your monthly statement, then shred them.

    Monthly Bank and Credit Card Statements: Compare with your receipts and hold at least three years in case you need to prove a tax deduction, then shred them. Better yet, sign up for online statements so that you have digital records on hand if you're ever audited.

  • Investments Statements

    Monthly or Quarterly Statements: Keep until the next one arrives, then shred them.

    Annual Statements: Keep as long as you own the investment.

  • Tax Documents

    Pay Stubs: Hold until you reconcile them with your annual W-2 form, then shred them.

    Tax Records: Keep for seven years beyond the filing date, then shred them.

  • Purchase Records

    Receipts for Items under Warranty: Hold until the warranty or service contract expires.

    Instruction Manuals, Receipts for Large Items, and Maintenance and Repair Records: Keep until you sell or discard the item.

    Receipt for Items bought with Your Credit or Debit Card: Compare with charges listed on your account statements, then shred them. One exception, if they're needed to prove a deduction on your tax return retain for a minimum of 3 years in case of audit.

  • Auto & Home Documents

    Auto Titles: Retain for as long as you own the vehicle.

    Auto Loan Documents: Keep until the loan is paid off, then shred them.

    Maintenance and Repair Records: Hold on to until you sell or discard the item or vehicle.

    Insurance Policy Documents: Keep until you renew the policy, then shred them.

    Mortgage Documents: Hold until the loan is paid off, then shred them.

    Deeds and Home Purchase and Improvement Records: Keep in safe deposit box for as long as you own the property, then shred them.

  • What to Keep Forever

    Monthly or Quarterly Statements: Keep until the next one arrives, then shred them.

    • Birth certificates
    • Adoption papers
    • Passports
    • Citizenship papers
    • Marriage certificates
    • Divorce decrees
    • Military service records
    • Education records
    • Past and present pension documents
    • Social Security cards
    • Life insurance policies
    • Household inventories
    • Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents* (executors should also have copies)

Simplify in One Easy Step

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Why Shred?

Tax returns, bank statements, and other documents with personally identifying information on them should never be simply thrown away. Thieves are not above sifting through trash cans, gathering discarded documents, and using the information they find to commit identity theft and fraud.

Shredding is one of the best tools in your arsenal to guard against this. The documents you shred are completely destroyed, rendering them useless to thieves.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.