There are some very good documents written about how long you should keep your financial records. Bank Rate has a very good list, and Kim Lankford at Kiplinger’s Ask Kim column wrote a pretty detailed article as well.
I’ve read all the articles. I’ve nodded along at the good advice. Then I’ve boxed up every bank statement, cancelled check, utility bill, and retail receipt from every year and put them in plastic totes under the house. Each year, during the first quarter, I gather all of my tax items, pull last year’s records out, start new files for this year, and move everything under the house.
With a total of 2 ex-wives, 1 ex-husband, and a whole group of “yours, mine, and ours” children, I am petrified to get rid of any records. I have pre-k report cards, tissues in baggies with unidentified baby teeth, string and ribbon art works, and every single birthday/valentine’s/holiday card and personal letter ever received.
I have one box that is full to the top with cancelled checks and bank statements from Mark and his ex-wife 11 years ago. I admit that I keep these because those bank statements have child support records and until the children are all 18, we never know when something is going to pop up.
I live by the premise that records are only useless until about 5 days after you throw them out. Then they’re desperately needed. I’m never so relaxed as when all my filing is done. And… MY FILING IS DONE! I finished it about 30 minutes ago.