The Paper Documents You Actually Need to Keep

by Jason Unger

In an age of online banking and bill pay, it’s easy and makes a ton of sense to go paperless, especially when it comes to the traditional bank and bill statements you’ve been getting in the mail for years.

But for as many documents that we can store digitally, there are a few items that you should keep in paper format, according to the folks at Kiplinger’s.

  • Tax Returns
  • Thank-you letters from charities and year-end investment statements
  • Records pertaining to your house as long as you live in it (the purchase price and what you spent on improvements)
  • Records showing how much money went into and came out of IRAs and 401(k)s

That’s not too bad, and certainly makes sense. But one alternative is to scan these documents and store them as PDFs on your computer — probably easiest for the investment statements, IRA/401(k) contributions and thank-you letters.

When it comes to tax returns, Kiplinger’s says you can toss out supporting documents after three years — the length of time the IRS has to audit you. The returns, however, you should keep even after three years.

So what can you get rid of? Well, almost everything else, including:

  • ATM receipts
  • Bank withdrawal and deposit slips
  • Credit card receipts
  • Pay stubs (when you get your W-2)
  • Monthly bills

All good advice. Are there any other paper documents or statements you need to keep?

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