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Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Posted by marie26 (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 26, 07 at 11:47

I've been making a lot of progress in my office sized 5-drawer filing cabinet. I now have 2 boxes full of credit card, cable, phone, etc. old statements. I had been keeping all pay stubs and finally threw them all out except the last and first ones of each year.

My questions are: Can I throw away all the older bank statements, even if they come with our checks? How many months should I be keeping at any one time?

We have been paying monthly to the IRS for a previous large tax bill. Must I keep all the statements that I get from them? If not, how many should I keep?

Is there any other method besides shredding? I really don't want to purchase a shredder for this one time use.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

toss ALL those old statements, even quite probably the bank statements. Once you've reviewed them, you don't need them. I'd only keep the cancelled checks of purchases or payments that might possibly ever be contested. Maybe a year or two's worth, max., or all of them, and then only the individual checks that might matter for something later.

But if you'd paid your utility bill all last year, and your utility statements are up-to-date, you don't need to keep the cancelled checks from that bill forever.

*IF* the statements have the print-outs of your checks, maybe that will mean you should keep them, but again, I think that after a year or two, I'd only keep the page for the check I thought I might want again.

Frankly, the IRS scares me. I'd keep all the statements, PLUS pull the cancelled checks, from that for a few years. I might get rid of the bulky stuff but keep the final statement or whatever that shows that tax bill is paid off forever.

Shredding: Do you work in a corporate office? Sometimes you can shred stuff using their shredder; they often have a heavy-duty one. Someone at my office doesn't even ask; she just shreds about 1.5 inches at a time on our mega-machine, when nobody's looking. She figures she shouldn't fill it up too fast, but it's just sitting there....

Or, do you have a tax accountant, whose shredder you could borrow? Any other professional you have a relationship with, whose goodwill you could call on to loan you their power machine?

Burning is a possibility in some neighborhoods.

When it's just a few things, you can sometimes tear the paper in the middle of the account number, and toss the pieces into separate garbage that gets taken out at separate times. But that's sort of annoying for a large amount of paper.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I have a shredder at home because I shred all the junk mail that comes with our name on it. Although I haven't shredded in a while and have a pile waiting beside the shredder. They're inexpensive now - around $20 at Target, even for the cross cut ones.

I'd keep all the IRS stuff. They scare me too. Box it all up and put it in a closet, labeled, in case you need it.

I also need to weed through old credit card and bank statements. If you've moved, or will be moving, keep those receipts for tax purposes. If you've made major improvements to your house, keep those papers for if/when you sell.

Papers are my major downfall.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Another good idea I hadn't thought of. I'm going to box up all the old IRS papers and store it in one of the now empty filing cabinet drawers. At least this way, I'll be able to open the drawer without the unneeded excess. Thanks for the tip.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

w/ inexpensive shredders, you can burn them out if you try to do too much at one time (you need to go back to shredding that junk mail as you go, instead of letting it pile up)

Oh, and I agree w/ boxing up the IRS stuff, well-labeled. It's not like you need to get to it very often.


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RE:: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Yes, my shredder will quit working after a furious shredding session of several minutes, and take a break. And then it will start working again. I can tell when it's ready to go again because I'll hear it whirr, whirr through the last page that got stuck in the top when it stopped. And then it's ready for another round.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

My DH killed mine.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

You only need to keep home improvement records if you are going to make a profit of over $500,000 and need to lower the basis of the home. No problemo at all here of not hitting that $500,000 mark. Although we have take the office in the home deduction and I'm amazed how much all of that little stuff adds up to over the course of a year.

Really, all of this stuff doesn't need shredding. If it's got your social security #, sure then shred it but remember that your bank account # is on every check you write. We probably shred about 5% of the stuff we throw away.

Gloria


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Gloria, I don't need the bank statements for tax break backup or business. Can I save only the last few months instead of the last few years?


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

We sold our house last fall and we had kept the repair receipts to show when the furnace had last been serviced, the air conditioner had been serviced, when the patio roof had been replaced, when the floor had been replaced, etc. It's more of a reassurance for the potential buyers than for tax purposes.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

We don't own a home. I'm thinking that I don't need to keep all the bank statements and cancelled checks. I just need reassurance that I can throw them all out.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

You can throw them out. Once you've reconciled your account and don't have any issues, it can go.

minet, showing those receipts must be a regional type thing. I wouldn't show buyers that information, even if asked. The home inspection will show if items have been serviced regularly. Of course, we live in a no price disclosure state. I'm always amazed when they talk on the buying and selling board about the information released in other areas. Just not done here.

Gloria


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I finally went through the IRS papers and organized them by year, by date. The 2007 statements and 2006 tax return will be filed in the filing cabinet. The rest are in a box. But there's a large box of papers in the garage from before I moved into this house. When I clean out the garage and get this box, I'll incorporate that stuff into the filing cabinet. Most of it, I hope, will end up in the garbage.

Next will be the bank statements.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Hey, you are doing great! I'm still sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the paper elves to come during the night and file it all for me.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Impressive, Marie.

What did you decide to do to destroy the paper? Fire, shred, commercial recycle?

A local bank had a promotion today. Open an account and they would let you shred up to 3 boxes of papers. I wonder if this need to destroy records will become more of a "thing".

I'm thinking of burning the canceled checks and stuff...a bit politically incorrect/unecological, but I rationalize that it is once in my 55 years. I can shred from here forward. Promise.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I haven't decided what to do as far as shredding. I'll need to check if I can burn the papers. There are only certain times of the year they'll let you do that.

I pulled out the box of papers from under a bunch of other boxes in the garage and have started going through those papers. At least they were organized into large envelopes. I had kept a lot of stuff unnecessarily. I'm going to put all the papers I decide to keep back into the filing cabinet.

But I really don't want to do the garage which is in dire need of me getting started on it. I keep trying to come up with excuses since the weather has been perfect for garage cleaning.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I have a HUGE canvas bag in our garage too, full of old papers from our last financial mis-advisor. Overwhelming amount to go through. I'm planning to take it with me when we visit sister and BIL. He's known for his great bonfires (allowed there) and it will save the time and eyesite and headaches needed to go through it all looking for SS#'s, etc. DH thinks I'm just procrastinating or kidding, but its a definate plan. Sandy


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I've been piling all the paper and envelopes that are to be "shredded" into boxes. It would take too long to have to figure out which ones have information that could just be thrown in the garbage.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I'm almost done with half of that oversized box of papers in the garage. I now have 3 boxes of papers to discard.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Marie, you inspired me to try to burn some old papers. It is slow! Keep having to poke it with a metal rod to get it going. Now I'm thinking: who cares about canceled checks for an account I closed 9 years ago? Or Blue Cross/Blue Sheild statements re: their reimbursements in 2002? I might just go with recycling in the trash pickup.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I finally emptied out the box from the garage. Everything is put away into its proper spot in the filing cabinet but I still have to go through the bank statements from the past 3 years. I threw out almost all of the ones prior to that. I only kept one or two pieces of paper from different bank accounts that we had closed just to have a record of it. There are also a few files that are still bulky that I will probably have to go through and weed them out again.

For those who don't know my background, we've moved around a lot and thus have opened and closed accounts many times. I prefer to keep a record of the different accounts (telephone, utility, bank, etc.) because I might end up back in one of these areas but more importantly, this is part of our history and memories. Does that make any sense?


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Yes that makes perfect sense. I really struggled with burning up those financial and medical papers today. DH in contrast looked maniacally thrilled burning up his old pay stubs and our old mortgage statements. Between the two of us, I am more "anchor" aware, the historian, the finder of records. Perhaps that is your role too, and it helps to keep some bits??

You know you are making great progress in the bulk of paper. Keeping a bit for comfort insurance (or memory) doesn't change that.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Re: the idea that burning paper is "a bit politically incorrect/unecological"--

I'm not sure sure. When you burn paper, most of what you produce is carbon. Carbon is a natural element, and decomposes. It's a far less dangerous emission that, say car exhaust, etc.

I've started tossing the statements, and have been chuckling at how many I've kept even though I've been saying here that "statements don't matter."

Phone statements do, bcs they're our only receipts, and so might be needed for DH's tax return (he's a freelancer). But utilities, and even credit cards, and even retirement accounts; an perhaps bank statements--I'm toying w/ the idea of shredding them INSTEAD of filing them, right when they come in, and after I've looked at them.

I'm also trying to be stricter about removing all the extraneous papers that come w/ the statements.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

To show how sad my record keeping had been, many of the items I'm now getting rid were still in their original envelopes with all the extra junk mail. I'll never do that again!


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I've gotten lucky in that I saw an ad on TV that showed a shredding service setting up a truck at the mall this coming Saturday. They will be doing free shredding. So, if all goes as planned, I will finally be able to get rid of these papers.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

hooray!


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I did it! Well, not really, the people on the truck with the shredding machine did it. The filing cabinet papers are gone! It feels soooo freeing.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Congratulations! That has to feel good. I went through our files recently and it was very freeing to throw stuff out. I keep reminding myself of what I read, which is 80% of what we file is never looked at again. It's true; I hadn't looked at some of that stuff since 1977. I'm not saving stuff that long EVER again! I admire you for even going out to your garage, since I can't bring myself to visit mine. On the other hand, my home office has undergone a major make-over and it feels like spring. My table tops are clear and just today were used for filing, dinner and now curtain making. I'm loving it...five minutes to clean is a great feeling.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

A couple of comments on shredding. Junk mail - I recycle. My address is public record. What good does shredding it do?
Anything with my SS # or account #'s - I tear off the confidential part and shred it. The rest goes into the recyling bin.

Bank statements - After reconciling, I file. Then I pull the oldest statement (I keep 2 months' statements). I rip off the part with account number and shred. Then I recycle the rest.

Tax returns - I keep 10 years' worth. When I file, I pull out the oldest return, tear off SS #'s, shred that. Recycle the rest.

Utility bills, old bills - after paying, I shred the confidential part and recycle the rest.

Medical records & statements. I keep everything for last year and this year. I also keep test results so that I can compare them. Otherwise it's the same story. Shred and recycle.

Result - I don't beat up the shredder quite as quickly.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

I wish I had kept my old tax returns. DH has always kept his since he's self-employed. Just got my latest Social Security statement and for the first time I looked it over in detail. Mine is funny because I come under the Windfall tax stuff. In my earlier teaching days, I'm sure both Social Security and teacher retirement was witheld. Now, I'm going to have to go back to the school district for copies of my pay. If I had my old returns it would be in there. Sigh.

Gloria


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

Same topic, different stuff. I have saved every ordersheet/receipt for all furniture we have ever purchased; DR, BR, LR, most of which is close to 15 years old. For insurance purposes (?) do I need them, or would photos suffice, or do I need any proof at this point? I need to weed out again.


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

You'd probably be safest to talk with your agent. I think it will depend upon what your policy covers and how the replacement costs are worded. If they will only give you the value of that furniture, then 15 yo stuff is not going to be of much value on the second hand market. I know we have all of the costs to replace with new furnishing and basically have a flat amount. The main problem with our set-up is if we only have a partial loss, then we have to prove what we had. My agent told us to just take pictures and we went online and found comparible items with the current costs and put that together. This is mostly for items like my quilts and DH's books. Our funishings are pretty run of the mill, so anything we would buy to replace what we have would most likely be better quality than what I'm using now.

Gloria


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RE: Filing cabinet items I can shred?

For anyone else who finds themselves finally willing to part with a bunch of paper that you're just nervous about dumping straight into the recycling bin, there are a few other options for disposing of that paper. If there's nothing in your phone book, try calling a school or some other business that would handle a large volume of confidential material and ask them what they do. My mom works at a school that sends all of their sensitive papers to a roofing manufacturing company. Your bank account statements might end up as shingles on someone's roof, but once the paper hits that first acid bath, no one would ever know it!


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