Paper Horders: how long must we . . .

sawmillMay 30, 2005

How long must we keep financial records? I am talking 401 K statements & similar records.

I am determined not to leave our home office this weekend until I pitch a major amount of paper. (Beats pulling the weeds, now doesn't it!)

It strikes me that 401K statements neatly divided into binders for the last 15 years might not really be necessary to anyone's health or well-being. Can I destroy January through November and just keep December of each year to reduce the paper or do I even need any of it after a few years. Is it so easy to recall on computers now that we need no hard copies.

PLEASE help so I can leave the room!!!!

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Mine & DH's come quarterly. Changes to them can only be made in Oct. Right now, I'm keeping the final quarter of last year & the quarterly statements until Oct. in order for us to examine the performance & make changes if we wish. Then I start over. One year's worth is plently to keep for these documents.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 9:07PM
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I would keep every December statement, but I freely admit I have a hard time letting go of paper....


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 5:47AM
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here's my theory on investment accounts.

*starting paperwork (keep until you close the account)
*the year before last's year-end paperwork
*last year's year-end paperwork
*this year's quarterly paperwork
*ending paperwork, for about 3 years after you close the account, then throw EVERYTHING out

At the end of each year, keep the year-end statement, and toss the quarterlies and the year-before-last's statement (so you always have two years back)

There's no need to keep quarterly paperwork beyond a year (and if you aren't actually going to ACT on it, don't keep it at all!)

I probably should look at my investments and say, "wow, they're losing money, I should move it" but I know I won't. so I toss it.

I do need to dump my Fidelity Magellan account--they've lost me half my value, probably.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 11:59AM
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Thank so much, all! My broker now tells me that the old IRS 7 year rule on financials has changed to 3 year retention; however, there is no limitation on retirement accounts. Meaning that if you are committing hanky-panky fraud with your 401 K, you have to save the paper to defend yourself. I guess that means if you are honest, you can toss freely! I am approximating Talley Sue's method and boy, did my shredder get a workout this weekend!

Just shoulda invested in a sturdier model shredder! LOL!
I am excited that we may be able to reclaim some space in our office soon. Now my real office - that's another story. Thinking about closing it for one day each quarter for the staff to collectively toss.

Anyway, thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 11:39PM
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Now my real office - that's another story. Thinking about closing it for one day each quarter for the staff to collectively toss.

At my job (Fortune 100 company), there is an annual "Scrappy Day" designated to go through paper and electronic files and storage and toss stuff that's no longer needed, in accordance with the company's record-retention policies. It's sometimes hard to take the time amid all the other stuff going on, but it's nice to purge!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 8:46AM
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one other thought about 401Ks--I'd keep records of any withdrawals and any unusual deposite--

in other words, don't keep records of your automated payroll deposits, but if you close out some OTHER account and roll it over into the 401K, keep that piece of paperwork. Or if at the end of the year your tax lady says you should put $3K in a 401K, keep that paperwork.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 10:14AM
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Steve, I bet one day annually is not nearly enough, but it is a great idea and was motivational when I mentioned it at our staff meeting.

Talley Sue, good point on keeping a paper trail on out of the ordinary withdrawals, transfers or deposits.

I wonder if other countries create as much paper as Americans do. Hard to believe they would.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 11:56PM
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I was just telling my boss yesterday that I needed to close my department for a day so we could toss, shred & file. It's nearly impossible for me or the others in the department to find time to do this during a regular day. We have an incredible amount of paper to deal with. So much for the paperless office!


    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 6:31AM
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