How long should you keep bank statements?

mc_huddApril 28, 2008

I thought this had already been asked, but did a search & couldn't find the answer. How long should you keep your bank statements? I have at least a couple of years worth piling up -from 3 different banks- & want to get rid of as many as possible, but I don't want to throw away something that I might possibly need 2 months down the road. I keep all of our paid bills for 1 year... I have 12 file folders each labeled for each month. When I get back around to that month I throw out last years; for example, I will soon be throwing away May 2007's bills & replacing w/ May 2008's paid bills. Could I do this w/ bank statements too? Thanks in advance for any replies! :)

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The first question I'd ask - how many times since you've had bank accounts have you needed to dig out an old check? How many times have you had to prove that you paid something? The law of averages is on your side that you will never have a check go astray in the mails or that you'll be audited by the IRS.

I save bank statements for one calendar year at most. When tax returns have been filed, the tax year bank statements get shredded. I don't keep routine paid bills for any length of time (basically, only as long as it takes me to pay the bills and run by the post office with them) - if a utility or credit card or whatever didn't get a check, I'd know about it on their next bill.

Lots of people are drowning in paper and everyone's a little different with regards to saving paper. You sort of have to look at what you're holding on to and why and for how long and find your comfort level.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 9:58PM
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What about scanning them into your computer and scrapping the paper (which I would think could then be requested again from the bank should anything ever come up that needs it)?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:54PM
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I hope you're shredding these as you dispose of them and not just dumping them into the trash.

My credit union keeps statements available to me online for 2 years.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 12:43AM
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If you get paper statements and your checks back...keep for at least a year. After a year, you can toss the statements, IF you pull out all important checks, like taxes, real estate/home improvement stuff, large dollar purchases and so forth. Retain these checks as long as necessary (tax stuff 7 years, large dollar purchases as long as you own the item, etc.)

If you did the above, you could use your 12 month revolving file for bank statements as well, but as Kframe said, shred 'em before you toss 'em.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 2:23PM
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I shred statements that are older than 2 months. Once I had to get old statements for my mother's account. The bank sent me photo copies of them for a small fee.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:43PM
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I don't get paper bank statements, so my response would be you don't need to keep them any longer than it takes to reconcile them and find any mistakes.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 7:37PM
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With some banks you can go back several years on the computer. I have to go back and shred some stuff now. Check with your tax advisor.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 1:26AM
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I've set all my bank statements to be paperless. I download them, naming each statement "Giant Bank Year Month" There is probably no need to be keeping them, but at least I'm not drowning in paper... well, actually I am, but at least not bank statements!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 12:16AM
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I do everything electronically, and this is something that has been bothering me. I don't remember the last time I even received a bank statement, so I am obviously not keeping any sort of record of them. I am constantly "in" my transaction activity, however. I even go so far as to have my balances and certain transactions meeting specific criteria emailed to me on a daily basis (for example, any transaction over $X). How much trouble could this practice cause?

Does the fact that I'm regularly accessing my transaction histories (and, presumably, aware of any discrepancies) somewhat mitigate the fact that I do not receive (and keep) a paper statement?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:34AM
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I don't think there is any definite answer to your question. In my case, I save 4 years of statements (2-3 pages per month) which fit nicely into a 1" 3-ring binder. When a new statement comes, I shred the oldest one.
There are not many instances when you would need very old statements. Medicaid is one, however. They will want to see the lasy 5 years of statements. I went through this with my mother who was in a nursing home. The bank was able to provide the missing statements, and they did so at no charge!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:52PM
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