Kudos to everyone who decluttered paper over the weekend, like Yolanda S. who tidied up the Hot Spot. “Our family has a bad habit of placing everything on the kitchen table,” she writes. “When dinnertime comes, the pile moves to the counter.” I’ve been there, haven’t you? I’ve also been known to hurriedly put everything from the Hot Spot in a bag and stick in the closet when friends were coming over!
While technology is creating more and more paperless options, there are a few documents that we do need to keep. Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some guidelines:
Your accountant is the best person to talk to about what, exactly, you need to store. I keep the last 7 years of personal and business tax returns and all the related records. They are stored in waterproof clear plastic containers. Each year when taxes are done, I move one year out, shred the documents, and move the new year in. I keep federal tax returns indefinitely.
Important Life Documents
Birth and death certificates, wills, living wills, marriage licenses, passports, etc. should all be stored in a fireproof safe. It’s a good idea to make good photocopies of these documents and give them to a trusted friend or relative who lives elsewhere.
End of Life Papers
Make it easy for our survivors to deal with things by filing paper copies of life insurance policies, wills and estate plans, beneficiary directives, burial instructions, access to lockboxes, etc. Keep these papers in a file cabinet and give your loved ones clear instructions about where they are.
Home and Auto Papers
Keep deeds, mortgage documents, titles and bills of sale, home improvement documentation and warranties in a fireproof safe.
Keep Up the Good Work
If you do 20 minutes of paper decluttering today, I’d love to hear from you! Share your comments on the this post or over at the Facebook Money Diet Community Group.
You’ll hear from me again tomorrow with a tip to help you drastically reduce those paper stacks.