We have focused business and organizations and the best records information management (RIM) practices over the years. But that is just some of the documents that are being stored. Every person has records that need to store for personal reasons. These are all the documents crammed into shoe boxes or in file cabinets in the home office.
These records have a retention schedule just like business records have. There are some that should be saved for legal reasons and some should be kept for functional reasons. However, most of the records that people store are for no reason at all. These can clog up the file cabinet for no reason and may contain sensitive information that can be used to steal an identity.
If the goal is just to save space then document scanners can move everything from paper to digital. This saves space and more importantly, is easy to find, an most importantly, allows you to back it up in an offsite location.
So here are some basic guidelines for personal records retention:
Tax documents – Save for seven years according to most CPAs. But remember there is not statute of limitations for fraud.
Bank Statements – Keep a three month history. The beauty of online banking is that more history is available in a couple of clicks.
Investment Documents – Save reports that show any investment purchases and sales. Monthly and quarterly reports don’t hold much value and can be shredded.
Pay Stubs – Everyone likes to save these but they really don’t have any value. Keep a three month history and the year end stub. Old ones are dangerous because they contain SS numbers.
Credit Card Statements – If you have a warranty benefit with your card you might want to keep them for big purchases. If there are purchases you can deduct for taxes put them with your tax documents for safeguarding. Otherwise you should always carefully review them for fraud and then shred them.
Home Repairs – Keep receipts for home renovations until you sell the home. Minor repairs need only be saved for ten years.
Medical Forms – Save for five years from date of services rendered. This includes insurance forms.