Are you buried in paper? Never sure which receipts, statements and documents to hang on to? And for how long? Well you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with paper clutter. So much for living in the “Digital Age...” Are you ready to dig your way out of that paper avalanche and put a system in place to keep it from happening again? Financial planner and teacher Rob West provides a simple way to do it.
By some estimates— at least half of that paper in your mailbox can go straight into the recycling bin. It’s either junk mail or other material that you’re not interested in and certainly don’t need to keep. So Rob discusses these methods to alleviate paper clutter
- The first thing you need to get is a shredder. If you don’t already have one. You need to be able to easily destroy material that could harm you if it gets into the wrong hands.
- So we’re going to set up a 3-drawer system here— based on the length of time you need to hang onto something.
- So first up we have documents you need to keep permanently. These are things like your birth certificate, passport, car titles, property deeds, marriage certificates and your Social Security card.
- Permanently store your Roth IRA contribution history as well as medical receipts if you have a health savings account. Those receipts can still be used years later.
- Stuff you need to keep for tax purposes. This includes anything you need to fill out your 10-40— that means supporting forms like W-2s and 10-99s. Certainly anything where the IRS was also mailed a copy.
- Our last drawer is material you need to keep around for just one year. These are things like utility bills, bank statements, pay stubs, and bills. After a year— you can chuck ‘em. Of course— if you need to declare any of those as expenses— keep those over with your tax documents in the 7-year drawer.
- Everything else goes into the shredder.
Next, Rob and Steve answer these questions at 800-525-7000 or via email at Questions@MoneyWiseLive.org:
- If you did you taxes and you're about to receive a refund of about $7999.39 but you also have about$28231.71 of debt including two cars, a four wheeler and a credit card, how do you and your spouse agree on what gets paid first?
- If you're retired and have been told you need to dissolve a 403(b) fund, what should you do?
- How long should you keep documents regarding selling a home?
- If you have commercial property you wish to advertise for lease but are concerned about 2 Corinthians 6:14, should you restrict your business dealings by this passage?
- Is using a realtor advisable when buying a house?
- If you've had some financial problems because of medical issues and have worked through most of it but now have inherited about $20,000 and a $200,000 home, should you retire the rest of the debt if it it leaves you with no savings?
- If you purchased a condo when home values were very high and have recently received a hike in monthly dues, would it be a good idea to refinance the mortgage to compensate for the increase?
- If you have received life insurance proceeds from the death of your husband, will that be considered income?
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