Spring cleaning is a good time to rid your home of the clutter and paperwork you have accumulated over the past year. However, when it comes to reviewing your financial records, knowing what to keep, what to discard, and when is very important.
Some of these documents can contain confidential information, so safe disposal is essential. The Better Business Bureau suggests the following record keeping and removal tips:
•Canceled checks: All canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations or other improvements to a property you own should be kept indefinitely. The same holds true for non-deductable contributions to a retirement account. Checks that support your tax returns must be kept for a minimum seven years. All other checks can be discarded after a year.
•Deposit, ATM, credit card, and debit card receipts: Save them until the transaction appears on your statement and you have verified that the information is accurate.
•Credit card and bank account statements: Save those with no tax or other long-term significance for about a year, but save the rest for up to seven years. If you get a detailed annual statement, keep that and discard the corresponding monthly statements. Also, be sure to mark closed deposit accounts as such.
•Credit card contracts and other loan agreements: Keep for as long as the account is active; they may be needed in the event you have a dispute with your lender over the terms of your contract.
•Documentation of your purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and other investments: Retain these while you own the investment and then seven years after that.
To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, be sure to shred any documents that contain a Social Security number, bank account number or other personal and financial information before disposing.
For more tips, go to www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.