When I was doing the #minsgame challenge last month, I found myself shredding for days, getting rid of paperwork that went back to my first job offer over 30 years ago. It’s paperwork I will never need again but which I was afraid to throw out, just in case.
It was pretty obvious I wouldn’t need a 30 year old job offer but with other documents, credit card statements for example, I just wasn’t so sure. So, I headed to the internet to figure out just what I needed to keep and how long I needed to keep it for.
By the end, I had a great list that now has pride of place on my office noticeboard and, since then, I’ve found myself referring to it often. My inbox has never been so empty. Because it was helpful for me, I thought others might find it useful too (at least others in the UK at least).
Keep it for one second
- Junk Mail – a second is how long it should take for you to get it into the recycling bin
Keep it for one month
- Receipts for everyday purchases made on credit cards or debit cards – check them against statements and then shred
- Receipts for items that don’t have a warranty but there might be some small chance you have to return
Keep it for one year
- Mortgage statements – shred the last one when the new one arrives (after checking it to make sure it’s right)
- Payslips – shred them when you receive your P60 as this is an annual record of what you’ve been paid
- Phone bills
- Utility bills
- Insurance policies – don’t throw out any records of claims though, you might need them when taking out new policies
Keep it for two years
- Bank statements
Keep for as long as needed
- Receipts for work done on your home (it might be needed when you sell on)
- Medical cards (these should be replaced with a newer card if you move, not gotten rid of)
- Receipts for major purchases as long as they are in warranty / until you replace them
Keep it forever
- Documents that confirm your identify – passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.
- Divorce paperwork
- Annual tax returns
This list isn’t exhaustive and some of it won’t apply if you are self-employed (check out the HMRC website for guidance on this) but it’s a good start I think to helping get those mountains of paperwork down and under control. Good luck!
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