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HOME RELATED PAPERWORK: –
- UTILITY BILLS – up to 1 year is usually enough – some people even only have the last 3 months
- BANK STATEMENTS – For non business accounts, a years worth should be plenty. This is usually enough time to be able to look back at any purchase made, or correct any errors
- RECEIPTS – Keep until the returns policy has run out (usually 30 days), and you are happy with the purchase. If it is a high priced item with a warranty then keep until the warranty has run out also.
- BIG TICKET ITEMS RELATED TO HOME / CAR – Keep for as long as you own the item.
- CERTIFICATIONS AND POLICIES – Keep until the next one reaches you – then the previous one is no longer valid.
BUSINESS / WORK RELATED PAPERWORK: –
I always keep around 7 years worth of my business paperwork, which tends to be the rule of thumb for most people – the guidelines can change – so I have simply given links below to the HMRC website which has the most up to date information in detail for you.
I keep my records in large files (as large as you need to keep an entire years worth of paperwork in (A4 Lever Arch files** or accordion files** are perfect for me) – and then I use tabs for each month. As I get any paperwork in I file straight away in the correct month, and then do my end of months books right at the start of the next month – printing off a summary sheet and adding it to the start of the previous month. This usually keeps things on track, and I can remember what was what so it’s easy to reconcile.
If you are self employed:-
If you are an employee / company director:
If you have any other investments/income:
Keep any rental or other forms of income details for up to 7 years also – just to be safe!
With investments that are long term, keep for the full duration of the investment so that you have all the details you need.
DECLUTTER AS YOU FILE…
Lastly – its always good to mention that once you have your paperwork sorted and know what you need to keep, it’s definitely worth having a sort out of your filing so that you can start afresh from today onwards.
I suggest using a filing cabinet with tabs on for each different section (you could also colour code per person in the house to make things even more easy to find) i.e. CHRISSY – LIFE INSURANCE, CHRISSY – BANK STATEMENTS etc….
Get into the habit of putting the new filing into the front of each file, which will naturally move the older documents to the back.
When you add anything new, check whether you can get rid of what’s at the back of the file – and keep the filing moving in this way to stop build up.
For example – once the new certificate comes in for your MOT, or car insurance – then the previous one is null and void so can be removed from that file immediately.
In this way you should be able to keep with pretty much the same volume of paperwork at any one time and keep things manageable.
Try and keep your paperwork under control and manageable at all times as it’s no good to you if you can’t find anything anyway.
If you are not self employed or working, and it’s purely home finances you are talking about, then 1 year is the maximum I would suggest keeping any paperwork for, or until any policy etc… has completed, whichever is the longer of the two.
If you are working or self employed, then check with the HMRC for up to date guidance, but most people keep between 5 and 7 years worth of records (all receipts, expenses, bills, payments etc…..)
If you can utilise paperless methods then that may be the way forward for you.
So – how long do you keep your financial records for?, I’d love to know, please leave a comment below…