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Clear the Clutter

Money-Guy 02-26-2010

Today’s show is on an issue that we all face, yet not many people know how to handle. It’s happened to every one of us. You start a folder to house all of your “important documents”, then maybe your folder turns into a binder, the binder turns into a drawer, the drawer becomes a filing cabinet, and next thing you know, you’re up to your ears in “important documents”. Which ones should you keep? How long should you keep them? What can you finally throw away?

There was a great article in Consumer Reports’ Money Adviser magazine titled “Conquer the paper piles”. This article did a great job of explaining what documents we should keep, what we can throw away, and how long we need to wait before we throw them away. I go through each of these in the show, but here is a quick recap and breakdown:

Keep for a Year or Less

  • Bank records
  • Credit-card bills
  • Current-year tax records
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment statements
  • Pay stubs
  • Receipts

Keep for a Limited Time

  • Household furnishings paperwork
  • Investment purchase confirmations
  • Loan documents
  • Savings bonds
  • Vehicle records

Hold These for Seven Years

  • Personal federal and state tax returns and their supporting records

Do Not Toss

  • Defined-benefit plan documents
  • Estate-planning documents
  • Life-insurance policies
  • Safe-deposit box inventory

While some of these may seem fairly obvious, I go through the ‘ins and outs’ of each in the show and explain the reasoning of why some documents are more important or need to be kept around longer than others.

I also start the show off by giving you a few tips on how to save some money on your utilities and make your life a little easier. A website that I frequently use is ConnectUtilities. This website is great for comparing service providers and finding the best deals available in your area. A service that I think is amazing for simplifing your life is PayTrust. While usually I make every effort to save you guys money, I think that this service is well worth the cost!

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