Which papers go in the rectangular file and which go in the circular file?
July 28, 2009 6:08 AM   Subscribe

What important household papers and documents must I keep and file? What papers are OK to throw away?

My wife and I are going to go through a ton of old stuff tonight that needs to be filed. What is important for us to hold on to? What is not worth our time to file?

We bought a house last year. We have two cars and no car payments. We have student loans.

Documents may include, but are not limited to:
- mortgage stuff
- water and utility bills (electric, septic maintenance)
- tax things from previous jobs
- insurance bills/statements (car, house, life)
- ??? whatever fun things have been stacked in piles

Please hope me. This seems daunting.
posted by fiercecupcake to Law & Government (7 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: Well, hell! I didn't come up with the magic search words! I swear I looked and looked.

Thank you :D
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:38 AM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: OK, none of those links cover either things to do with the mortgage/home loan OR insurance papers. What about these?
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:07 AM on July 28, 2009

I kept my original mortgage papers - and will do so indefinitely.

Same goes for insurance papers. I keep a copy of the original forms and a summary of the coverage on hand.

(I don't get monthly statement for either of the ones above as I prefer e-statements...)

Some quick googling, and the first two links I clicked on pretty much said the same as I said above.


posted by pghjezebel at 7:38 AM on July 28, 2009

I've been thinking of just paying someone to scan everything and burning to DVDs. That way, everything can be kept w/o serious work.
posted by paultopia at 8:44 AM on July 28, 2009

I use this file system from the Container Store. It's very easy to use and all you need is file folders and a file box to set it up. I was able to shred a lot of documents once I knew it was okay.
posted by Mouse Army at 1:37 PM on July 28, 2009

I think of it this way - if there was a fire and everything was lost, what would I actually need to try to replace? If I lost/got rid of/scanned and shredded something, what are the chances I would need a physical copy again, would a printout of the scan work, and if not how hard would it be to obtain a new copy (time and money)?

Obvious keepers are passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, etc. I've trimmed W-2s to only the last two years - I feel unlikely to be audited with my simple returns, and the IRS is supposed to have those anyway, right? Taxes are done online and actual tax forms are digital only (despite being advised by the software to print a copy to keep). If I had a mortgage, I'd keep a paper copy, ditto insurance stuff. Continue with each category or item of your own...
posted by attercoppe at 9:16 PM on July 28, 2009

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