Paper Clutter: What to Toss & What to Keep

Paper Clutter: What to Toss & What to Keep

Paper Clutter: What to Toss & What to Keep

With 2018 well underway, it’s time to get serious. You’ve guzzled down every last leftover bottle of wine from Christmas, eaten the final dozen cookies from New Years, and, better late than never, finally started working out in the mornings like you said you would. No? Just me?


Well, now that we’re in the full swing of things, returned to our schedules and routines, it’s time to hunker down and declutter last year’s papers.


Clutter doesn’t just accumulate in our refrigerators, on our bookshelves, and in our closets; clutter piles up, bunches together, and spills out of file folders and desk drawers. But it doesn’t have to. There’s no reason you need to keep all those paper documents!


Reasons to Get Rid of Paper Clutter:



You can effortlessly sign up for e-bills and e-letters; there’s no need for them to ever enter your living space. Take a few hours on a Saturday to change paper mail to e-mail to avoid paper clutter once and for all.


2) SCAN:

The documents you do need to keep can be scanned and saved in your hard drive. Not only do they take up zero physical space, but also, you can search for them in an instant (although I still recommend organizing your digital files).



The obvious reason for getting rid of paper bills and documents is because they take up too much space and you spend too much time tidying or searching through them. It doesn’t have to be this way!



What do you really need to keep, anyway? More on that below.



What Do You NOT Need To Keep? TOSS!!!!!


– Receipts you will not need for tax returns/deductions

– Medical receipts (What I do instead is write on my Google Calendar or keep a spreadsheet of my medical visits, symptoms, diagnoses, prescriptions, etc. to keep a digital file on myself and my husband, to know what ailments we’ve had, when, why, and what, if anything, has soothed them.)

– Instructions for products that can be found online

– Printed documents you have saved digitally or online

– Bills that can be found online

– Spam and junk mail

– The projects and papers and lists that you’ve told yourself for years you’d get to… but you know you never will – let it go!



What DO You Need To Keep?


According to the IRS—but more important, according to Suze Orman—keep the following for


3 years:

– Income Tax Returns

– Medical Bills and Cancelled Insurance Policies

– Records of Selling a House (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)

– Records of Selling a Stock (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)

– Receipts, Cancelled Checks and other Documents that Support Income or a Deduction on your Tax Return (Keep 3 years from the date the return was filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid — which ever is later)

– Annual Investment Statement (Hold onto 3 years after you sell your investment.)


1 year:

– Paycheck Stubs (You can get rid of once you have compared to your W2 & annual social security statement)

– Utility Bills (You can throw out after one year, unless you’re using these as a deduction like a home office –then you need to keep them for 3 years after you’ve filed that tax return)

– Cancelled Checks (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

– Credit Card Receipts (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

– Bank Statements (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

– Quarterly Investment Statements (Hold on to until you get your annual statement)



Keep while active:

– Contracts

– Insurance Documents

– Stock Certificates

– Property RecordsStock Records

– Records of Pensions and Retirement Plans

– Property Tax Records Disputed Bills (Keep the bill until the dispute is resolved)

– Home Improvement Records (Hold for at least 3 years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it’s sold)



Keep Forever in DOCUMENT FORM:

– Marriage Licenses

– Birth Certificates

– Wills

– Adoption Papers

– Death Certificates

– Records of Paid Mortgages



That’s still a lot of paperwork to hold on to. So make sure you have a filing system, filing cabinet, and very clear, consistent labels. Whatever documents can be scanned, scan. Whatever can be shredded, shred. Whatever needs to be kept in physical files, sort by YEAR & CATEGORY (Insurance>Home insurance + Auto insurance, etc.).


And remember to go through physical files and documents often. Any time you leave piles of work to accumulate, you only create more stress for yourself. A little bit every day keeps the craziness away!






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


My goal is to help you become more organized so that you can spend your time in meaningful ways.
The Container Store
The Container Store