Did you file your taxes on time this year, or did you have to request an extension? If you are all done with your taxes, why not consider going through your paperwork from this year and years past and discard receipts, bills, etc. and figure out what you need and those documents that you don't need anymore. But, before you rush to shred everything to make room for 2015 tax paperwork, here is a quick cheat sheet so that you know what you should hold on to and for how long, as well as things that you can finally say goodbye to and free up space for the next tax season's paperwork...
What to Keep and What to Shred (and when)
Bills -- Keep bills (including warranties) for big ticket purchases like appliances, cars, electronics, jewelry, etc. indefinitely, to show proof of value. Non-big ticket item bills can be shredded after one year.
House/Condo Records -- Keep all documents related to home's purchases, as well as permanent improvements and remolding you've made. These records can be used to document capital gains when you sell your home. After selling, you need to keep records including expenses incurred from selling and buying for 6 years after the sale.
Tax Returns -- Keep your complete returns for seven years, as you can be audited up to 3 years after filing.
Pay Stubs -- Keep for one year, then shred once you received your annual W-2 and verify the information is correct.
Cancelled Checks -- Permanently file anything related to taxes, business expenses, home improvements and mortgage payments. Otherwise, shred all other cancelled checks after 1 year.
Credit Card Receipts -- Keep bills for big ticket purchases, as you want to be able to check receipts against your monthly bank statements for accuracy. Once verified, you can shred receipts.
Now that you know what you can keep and what can go, how about also thinking about picking up a safe if you don't already own one. The last thing you want to worry about is losing important documents like birth and marriage certificates, car titles, house and mortgage paperwork, social security cards, etc. if ever a fire should happen in your home. In addition to fire loss, a home safe can help protect your important documents against floods, theft, mold and/mildew, forgetful loss, and even insect or rodent damage. When I got married, I was surprised to find a home safe as a gift one of my relatives gave me. But, after filling it with important documents and experiences water damage in our condo, I found out firsthand the important and need to have a home safe to keep documents safe.
As my family continues to go, as does the paperwork I need to file away in a safe. Now, I have the girls' birth certificates, our wills, my medical documents and scans, etc. So, as you can imagine my home safe is starting to fill out. I found my husband and I outgrowing our first safe we were given when we got married over 10 years ago. But, thanks to a sample sent recently from Sentry Safe, I don't have to worry about running out of space as their Sentry Safe Guardian Storage Box is spacious and perfect for both apartment/condo and home spaces.
Here is more about the LARGE (GB20L) GUARDIAN STORAGE BOX from Sentry:
"The Guardian Storage Box is the only long term storage container that is proven to protect your items from fire, water and other environmental damage.
Designed to protect your important business documents, it can hold both letter and legal size papers. Two latches secure the lid in place to keep out debris.
Units are also stackable to provide a convenient storage solution even when spaces is limited."
Model Number: GB20L
Capacity1.04 cu. ft.
Peril Protection: Fire and Water
Price: $99.99 -- Available through online retailers like Amazon, as well as in store at Walmart.
- Latches secure lid
- Stackable up to 3 high
So, now that you know the importance of a safe and have an idea of what paperwork you can shred or hold on now that tax season is wrapping up, here are some other items you will want to gather up and put in your new Sentry safe...
Items to Store in Your Home Sentry Safe
1) Passports and original birth certificates
2) Property Insurance policies and mortgage and home and car insurance policies
3) CDs or external hard drives of digital copies of family photos
4) Safe deposit box keys
5) Investment, retirement plan, bank accounts and other important papers, including contact information
6) Original social security cards
7) Important legal documents including power of attorney, living wills and health care proxies
8) Spare keys to your home and car, as well as titles to your vehicles
9) Valuables including coins, jewelry, cash, etc.
10) Past 3-5 years of your tax filings
To learn more about the Sentry Safe Guardian Storage Box I mentioned above and was sent to review, as well as other Sentry safes available, depending on your family's need, visit http://www.sentrysafe.com/.
I am so happy to have received the Sentry Safe Guardian Storage Box and can't stop talking about it with family and friends, while sharing the need for a safe, if they don't already have one. It is always better to be safe than sorry and a Sentry safe will help keep your valuables and important documents safe in case of fire, theft, etc.
Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.