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HOW CAN I REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF PAPERWORK COMING IN?
Most people ask the question about how long to keep their financial paperwork because it becomes unruly in the house – barely fitting into the designated filing area (if you have one) – but the first question to really ask is…
WHY DO WE NEED TO KEEP IT AT ALL?
Here are some of the main reasons we keep our financial paperwork: –
- We may need to refer back to it in the future
- We need to keep track of our spending / saving
- There may be a dispute that we need to query
- For proof of purchase (bank statement / credit card statement / receipt)
- Identity proof (utility bills are commonly requested for proof of address for example)
The fact is, we are very wary in todays world where identity fraud is prevalent, of not keeping records of everything financial.
The issue though, is that it can be a real burden and overwhelming to manage – so you may not be able to find what you need at a given time anyway.
Also, what happens if you have a house fire and all that paperwork is destroyed?
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
There are a few tricks that you could use to manage the amount of actual paper you have, before you even really have to worry too much about the length of time you have kept the information for, and it’s worth looking into these to ensure you don’t get overrun again once you have sorted everything out!
In todays technological world there are many ways to go: –
A lot of places now prefer to use online statements as it saves money, postage fees, and hassle. If you can get your bills to be moved online completely then you have immediately cut down on the paperwork you have.
The companies would have to keep backups of all their files, including your statements, so you could always get hold of a copy if required, and you would always have a backup in case of a house fire etc…
If a company doesn’t offer this service, or you still prefer to have a copy yourself, then why not start to scan the paper statements into your computer, and create a file on the computer for each bill.
A LOT less space is needed!
Either of these ways would help to negate the worry of keeping too few years worth of financial records, as you would have much space on your computer to store more.
These are great tips to avoid the paperwork mountain building – but of course there are still times when only the original hard copy will do – and that’s where the time scales become crucial.
You can negate paperwork to some level, but there will never be a time when we can go completely paperless (I don’t think).
So – let’s look at the timings that paperwork should be kept until – shall we…