Organizing blls

jessica_ohAugust 24, 2004

I have a folder for each bill that I keep for a year. At year's end, after taxes I shred them.

I've been taking each bill as I get them and matching them up with the receipts from the items I purchased during that month and then putting them into the envelope the bill came in (use bill pay online). This way I am recycling the envelope and making sure there aren't double charges on the bills. I had this happen twice and since then I've instituted this practice. I do the same with my checking account.

If there's a rebate that needs the original receipt. I just copy it on my printer/copier/scanner.

I don't know if this has been addressed but this has greatly helped me in locating recipts for returns and keeping an eye on those sneaky restaurants who may add more to the tip and any accidental double charges by banks.

HTH and if you have any suggestions for improving on this, please let me know.

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Anyone know how many old 401K/IRA statements to keep? Should we just hang on to the year-end tax summary copy?

I mean theoretically, we'll have these accounts until we retire, so surely we don't need each month or quarter's statements.

As I said on the other thread, I am trying to get a handle on home paperwork. I am better than I was, but still have WAY too much old stuff.

DH went thru health problems from 95 on, then in 97 I had my DD. And one thing I see today, going thru boxes of cancelled checks (some go back to 1990), It appears that my periodic purge routines stopped when illness came into my life. So now there are pockets of papers, like these cancelled checks, that have been neglected.

But I also noticed all the 401K/IRA statements, and wondered what we ought to keep. Hoping someone has a reference to this info and can let me know!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 2:18PM
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w/ investment accounts, I keep the opening paperwork, and the first year's. Then, each year, I keep: the end-of-year statement from last year, and the current year's quarterlies.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 3:15PM
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I do the same as Talley Sue for our investment papers. I throw out the quarterlies after the year's end.

Does anyone save those Social Secruity updates you get occasionally???

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 12:22AM
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I save them! At least they only come once a year at most.

But I try not to let DH see them or he will realize that I'm worth more to him dead than alive LOLOL

Talley Sue,

Ok, sorted all the statements so that they are consecutive. Now I will go through them all.

What about rollover papers? Can they be shredded if >1 year old since the info is on the year-end statement?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 2:51PM
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Alexina Properties

I will ask DH when he gets home. He is a CPA (not in private practice anymore) but he should no exactly what to keep. On the otherhand, he is the reason for the clutter in my house, he keeps everything, which explains why I am now going to start visiting this forum :-)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 3:22PM
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I would love to hear your DH's take on it, Klutz! (what's your real name? Hate to call you by your login!)

Here is's article on how long to keep financial records. It says to keep seven years of bank statements. Gosh I was hoping to purge some of mine! It also says to keep tax returns permanently. I thought tax returns were disposable after 7 years.

The only thing I ever heard you should keep forever is evidence that you paid off student loans. I hear a lot of calls on Clark Howard where even though you paid it off, they come back to haunt you years later due to glitches in their own record keeping.

Part of my reason for this is that my Sis'IL's mom died unexpectedly in July. SIL had to go back home and deal with settling the household, etc. SIL's dad had died 2 years ago after a long cancer battle. And I think her mom realized after dealing with his death, that losing a loved one is hard enough without having to deal with a mountain of papers. So she had purged, and only kept what was needed for legal purposes, nothing else. SIL said it made things a lot less difficult than they would have been otherwise.

Well, let me tell you! I would HATE for my loved ones to have to go thru THIS MESS! (also I want to have it manageable so when I return to work, I can maintain it).

Anyway, I'm in Shredding Purgatory now, paying for years of non-maintenance! But it feels good! Funny thing is, after two days of shredding, my cabinet doesn't LOOK that different! LOL But I can tell, because there is actually some slack in the file drawers now.

I guess I had some hopes of actually getting a drawer empty, but guess not!

Insurance papers sorted, purged
some of DH and my investment papers purged and organized
Shredded check dupes going back to 1986 in some cases!!!
Shredded some obsolete papers for things we don't have or things having to do with our last house we moved out of 9 years ago.

FOUND!!! (An added benefit)
DH's passport and birth certificate. I have been searching all summer for it!

Anyway, back to shredding!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bank Rate dot com's article on financial records

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 8:14AM
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I'm not sure if this was clear; for investment accounts, I don't keep each year's; just last year's and this year's.

So, if I opened the account in 1980, I keep the opening paperwork, and perhaps the end-of-year for 1980 (to have something to compare it to). Then, right now, I'd have the 1980 end-of-year, the 2003 end-of-year, and three quarterlies for 2004. In April of next year, I'd have the 1980 end-of-year, the 2004 end-of-year, and the one quarterly that had arrived for 2005.

I don't really care what happened to its value in the MIDDLE; I only care what it's like now, as opposed to what it was like at the beginning.]

Ideally, at the end of each year, I'd look at the earnings/value trends, and decide whether to hold or sell. Me, I just hold, LOL! I'll probably lose money (in fact, I *know* my kids have lost money) because it was just too difficult to figure out where to move the money to.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 2:25PM
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Having gone thru a near miss w/Hurricane Charley, I've had an epithany of sorts. Do I really need three file cabinets of papers??? Can I get the numbers from the Institutions? Most of my papers are gonna be history, gonna sell 2 file cabinets, just keep a paper with the names/phone numbers/account numbers. Got my 'bills paid' records on line, don't need the rest of the stuff.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 1:49AM
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I tell U one thing.. DO save those end of the year accounts from Social Security. I didn't & it came back to bite me in the butt. I have had all kinds of problems with SS when I changed from benifits from one deceased husband to another. They claimed I never paid medicare which I did.. I had nothing to prove it. That problem is solved but now I'm fighting to get back the money they took from me. It is a lot more money than I am willing to give them. One cent would be too much. I am now saving every piece of paper I get from SS & medicare.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 5:22PM
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It says to keep seven years of bank statements.

couldn't you get these from your bank, if you REALLY needed them?

The only thing I ever heard you should keep forever is evidence that you paid off student loans.

actually, I keep payoff info for EVERY loan.

What about rollover papers? Can they be shredded if >1 year old since the info is on the year-end statement?

I keep whatever it is I need to prove that I rolled that money over, so I can keep the IRS from taxing me. (usually that's the opening paperwork, which I keep anyway). And, I make sure that documentation, or a copy of it at least, is in w/ the paperwork for that year's taxes.

I keep taxes forever.

For example, that Social Security report they send you has an error on it for me. One year I worked for a real lame-o guy, and I think he didn't report my income to the SS folks. I have the tax return for that year, complete w/ W2s, so I can prove their records are wrong. (of course, I haven't yet, because it just hasn't seemed important enough to figure out how)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 5:32PM
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