Whether you keep your financial files in paper or on a computer, they can be pretty complicated to deal with. The trouble is that, when your financial files are a mess, you’ll inevitably struggle to find information as and when you need it. Worse, you’re at real risk of removing vital files when it comes time for a clear out.
This is bad news, and it’s an easier issue to deal with than you might imagine. In fact, when you get down to the financial nitty-gritty, it becomes clear that you don’t need to keep every last thing on file.
This realization makes it easier for you to manage your financial paperwork straight off the bat, as it means you’ll have less bulk to deal with. The question is, what exactly should you be keeping, and for how long do you need to have it to hand?
While you probably don’t need that receipt for the sandwich you bought the other day, filing relevant receipts still matters. You should certainly keep receipts for business expenses for at least three years. You should also file receipts for any products you buy with warranties and keep them for the duration of the offer.
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Medical bills are another essential keepsake. On the one hand, you’re going to need proof of medical expenditure for up to a year or even three, depending on your insurer. Keeping medical bills is also vital for the duration of legal action after an accident of any kind, as can be seen from these fair settlement tips. Get rid of this information before then, and you’ll inevitably struggle to make that money back in full.
It should go without saying that you need to keep paycheck stubs, though perhaps not for as long as you imagine. In truth, you primarily need these for tax processes, but you should be able to clear them out after a year once you’ve seen your annual social security statements.
Credit card statements
As with receipts, any credit card payments used for tax deduction purposes should stay in your files for up to three years. Even if you aren’t claiming anything back, keeping statements on hand until you have alternative proof of payments is your best way to write off debt without any risk of confusion/dispute.
Lastly, always be sure to keep your tax returns on file. The general line here is to keep up to three years worth of returns, but the IRS asks those who have claimed for a loss or similar to extend that date up to seven years. As such, it’s vital you take your situation into account when deciding what to keep here.
Admittedly, these aren’t the only financial files you’ll need to keep, with many others depending on personal experience. But, these are the most universal and widely stored options, so make sure to bear them in mind as you get on top with your filing once and for all.