Even if you do everything on your smart phone, paper is still a fact of life, as is identity theft. Knowing what paper is safe to toss is not only a good habit, it will help minimize your chances of being a victim of identity fraud and make it easier for you to know just what to keep (e.g., for tax purposes) for when you want to get organized.
TIP: If you don’t have a shredder, use a black marker to hide any confidential information on documents that contain an account number, medical record number or social security number before you toss. Items that may include this information are noted below with the word shred.
TIP: Be sure you keep and regularly empty a recycling bin in the area where you do your paperwork.
*These are general recommendations for household paper. If you own a business or have extenuating circumstances, such as you owe back-taxes, consult with your tax preparer or consult an attorney about your specific situation.
What to toss…
Pages you’ve printed off the Internet that don’t contain anything about you personally.
Online account information you can easily find on the Internet (shred).
Brochures, flyers or marketing material for events or products that don’t interest you anymore.
Outer envelopes of mail you’ve received, even if it has your address.
Paid bills after one year if you are not claiming them on your taxes (shred).
Business cards for people or companies you would never do business with or meet for coffee.
Loan documents when your loan has been sold or paid off (shred).
Closed bank account statements and checks (shred).
Greeting cards from people you don’t like or remember (Recycle).
Your child’s scribbles and instead curate and take photos of your favorite artwork and rotate their latest creation as part of your “collection.”
Bank statements after one year unless they contain expenses you’ve claimed on your taxes (shred).
Prescription receipts unless you claim them on your taxes (shred).
Credit card statements after one year unless they contain expenses you claim on your taxes (shred).
ATM and store receipts more than 30 days old.
Paycheck stubs more after one year. Keep your W2 and tax return instead (shred).
Copyright: Lis McKinley, 2017
Lis McKinley, M.A., is the owner of LET’S MAKE ROOM based in Oakland, California. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and Move Manager specializing in helping homeowners and other residential clients get organized to move, remodel or simply enjoy their homes more with less of what they don’t need.