Professional organizers in NYC are frequently called in by clients who need help with managing paperwork. In addition to developing and implementing a system for tracking and filing paperwork as it flows through your home or business, managing paperwork also includes archiving your files and knowing what you don’t need to hold on to.
As tax season wraps up, this is a great time to get a jump on managing paperwork by cleaning out your files, storing away those papers you need to keep and getting rid of those you don’t. Archived files should be stored in a safe place where they can be accessed as needed and protected from moisture. If you don’t have room in your home or office, consider an off-site storage facility that will catalog and safely store your file boxes, retrieve boxes when needed, and can destroy your records once they have outlived their usefulness. Be sure to follow procedures recommended by professional organizers in NYC and clearly label/date the boxes and maintain a master inventory list of all archived file boxes.
You may not need to keep as much as you think. Keep in mind, however, that the list below includes general professional organizer guidelines and you should always check with your accountant or attorney for their specific directions regarding the length of time managing this paperwork.
RECORDS TO KEEP
Tax returns – keep forever
Tax return documentation – 7 years
Contracts – keep forever
Real estate records – keep forever
Last pay stub of a job if you leave that job
Last pay stub of the year for your current job until you reconcile it with your W-2
All mortgage payment checks and statements – until mortgage is paid off
All student loan payments – until loan is paid off
Car loan payment stubs –until the car is paid off
Cancelled checks – Keep those related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements and mortgage payments; shred those that have no long-term importance
Bank deposit slips – until you reconcile with your bank statements
Bank statements – for a calendar year; store with tax returns if they will be used to prove deductions
Home improvement records – ownership period plus 7 years
Investment records – shred monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold on to annual statements until you sell the investments
Bills for purchases – keep until you confirmation a bill has been paid, then shred; however, bills for big purchases (jewelry, rugs, appliances, antiques, cars, collectibles, furniture, computers, etc.) should be kept in an insurance file for proof of their value in the event of loss or damage.
WHAT YOU CAN TOSS
Credit card statements – anything more than 3 years old
Past insurance statements
Old utility bills, except the most recent one from your old address if you’ve moved
Recently paid bills (statements), once you have confirmation they’ve been paid
All documents that contain personal information should be shredded before discarding them. Small in-home shredders are inexpensive and easy way to dispose of personal paperwork. If you have a large amount of paper to be shredded, you can arrange with a commercial document management company to do the work. Shred Fest is an annual New York City event that’s scheduled for May 20 this year. Industrial shredders will be set up at locations throughout the five boroughs to shred documents for free! For more information, click here.