Good Record Keeping Practices

While there are no set rules for how long to keep personal documents, the Better Business Bureau recommends the following periods of retentions:

Permanently

  • IRA contribution statements
  • Pension/profit sharing informational returns
  • Retirement/savings plans
  • Income tax payment checks
  • Deeds, mortgages, bills of sales
  • Legal correspondence
  • Plan and trust agreement
  • Birth certificates, social security card, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, passports, education records and military service records

At least 7 years

  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Cancelled checks
  • Income tax returns and worksheets (be sure to consult your tax professions)
  • Medical bills and records for tax deductions

At least 6 years

  • Sales receipts
  • Contracts (purchases and sales)—at least 6 years after disposal or termination
  • Insurance policies—at least 6 years after termination of the policy

At least 3 years

  • Settled insurance claims
  • Utility records

1 year or less

  • Bills: at least 1 year, except for large purchases which should be retained for insurance purposes
  • Paycheck stubs: shred after reconciled with W-2 and bills are paid
  • Bank deposit/withdrawal slips: shred once reconciled with monthly statement
  • Credit card receipts: shred once reconciled with monthly statement

With all financial decisions, it is best to review your personal and financial record keeping process with your tax, financial, and/or legal advisors.