Household Paperwork – How Long Should You Keep It

Where are your household financial documents when you need them? Over there in that huge pile of household paperwork is probably not the best answer. But it seems that’s how many Americans treat their seemingly endless accumulation of household paperwork, basically without care, until it’s time to spend hours, if not days, rummaging through piles and boxes looking for that one piece of paper you need. But you’re not alone, 66% of homeowners can’t find important documents when needed!

And just how long do you need to keep all of this household paperwork? It depends on what the actual document is. Over the lifetime of a property, you could have an enormous amount of paper that’s piling up, but the good news is, you don’t have to keep most of it forever. Here’s a handy list of what documents you can toss and when, plus you can learn about our free and easy DomiDocs solution to this household paperwork organizational problem!

Type of Receipts

How Long to Keep in Years

Important Notes

Active Contracts & Documents

Until they’re no longer active

This would include expired insurance policies, stock certificates, property records, or anything with an expiration date

Bank Statements

3 years

If you’re audited by the IRS, you’ll need three years worth of statements

Certificate

Forever

This list includes but isn’t limited to:

  • adoption papers
  • birth certificates
  • death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • divorce decrees
  • military records
  • paid off mortgages
  • powers of attorney
  • social security cards
  • wills

Credit Card Statements

Up to 3 years

Examine your statements monthly. If you need them for income tax purposes, you’ll need to keep them for three years.

General Receipts

3 years

These receipts could include anything you may need to itemize on your income tax return.

Home Improvement 

3 to 7 years

If you’ve sold your home, you’ll need to keep home improvement receipts for at least three years from the tax return that includes the sale of the home.

If you’re selling, you’ll need to keep these receipts for seven years as you may need them to lower the taxable gain.

Investments & Real Estate

3 years

If you may be claiming capital gains, you’ll need this paperwork for documentation.

Loans: Paid Off

7 years

Car loans, student loans, etc. just to be sure there hasn’t been any processing or bank errors

Medical Bills

1 to 3 years

If you need to provide proof to your insurance company to verify a claim, you’ll need to hang on to your medical bills for at least one year. If you’ve taken a medical care expense deduction on your income tax, you’ll need your paperwork for three years.

Medical Files

Forever

It’s suggested to hang onto your medical files indefinitely, especially if there are insurance claims or third parties involved.

Paycheck Stubs

1 year

At the end of the year, compare your W-2 and Social Security statements, as long as they match, then it’s safe to shred your paycheck stubs.

Tax Returns

3 to 7 years

All documents filed with the IRS are legally binding. The IRS advises keeping your income tax for the applicable period of limitations as follows:

  • indefinitely if you don’t file a return, or file a fraudulent return
  • three years from when you file or two years after you’ve paid taxes
  • four years for employment tax records
  • six years if you report less income than you should
  • seven years if you file a bad debt deception or a securities loss

Utility Bills

1 year

Can be discarded after one year, unless you’re utilizing a home office tax deduction, meaning you’ll need to keep them for three years.

How to Reduce Household Paperwork Before You Even Receive it

Go paperless with your bank and utility companies, that way your information is still available online should you need to check it, but you won’t be piling up that dreaded household paperwork every month. Don’t print out anything that’s not absolutely necessary. If you need to take notes on a project, do so digitally. The Notes feature of DomiDocs can be used to document anything you’d like and includes tagged categories. Reduce your junk mail by advising a retailer or charity that you no longer want to receive paper copies of their catalogs and flyers. Efficiently pay your bills online instead of using time-consuming hand-written checks. 

How to Securely & Properly Dispose of Household Paperwork

If you have documents with identifying information (including names, addresses, phone & account numbers, etc.) you’ll need to safely shred them. If you don’t own a home shredder, there are businesses such as big-box office supply stores that will shred your documents in front of you for a fee. Sometimes cities also hold free paper shredding days for their residents. When you’re sorting documents it’s easier to do when you put them into three categories: Recycle, Save, or Scan.

The DomiDocs Organization Solution to Household Paper-Based Documentation

The ability to store your records online so they’re organized and easily accessible is a game-changer for homeowners. DomiDocs is our user-friendly platform where you can upload and securely keep all of your household financial documents including but not limited to deeds, titles, receipts, insurance, warranties, home inventory list, photos, videos, and more. You can then access any online document you need at any time. How cool is that? And it’s free! You can also access your Document Bundle to forward an array of documents with just one click to file an insurance claim with your broker or to set up the sale of your home with a realtor.

Secure Your Home with HomeLock™

DomiDocs is committed to simplifying home management, as well as to digitally locking your home against virtually all homeowner fraud through HomeLock™, powered by the DomiDocs homeowner management platform. Your home and equity can be protected in three steps: enter your address, verify ownership, and start the protection process against deed & title fraud, clerical errors, missed payments, unpaid bills, and more! Be sure to sign up for HomeLock™ today!

For more information relating to finances, read:

How to Keep Important Tax Documents from Invading Your Space

How to Prep Financially for When You Die

How to Protect Your Finances From a Natural Disaster

Author – Connie Motz