Personal papers, receipts, and documentation -- should they stay or should they go?
March 19, 2008 2:41 AM   Subscribe

Paper trails: Similar to this link, I am looking for a specific list of personal papers, receipts, and essential documents I should keep and for how long. Any and all receipts? Bank statements?

I am lost as to which papers one MUST keep and papers that just cause clutter. If I ever needed to prove something by way of having a paper trail, or if I were to be audited, I'd be left scrambling.

I've just graduated from university, have never done my own taxes, rent, and will be living in Toronto, Canada. I try to pay my bills online. Should I be printing out each statement or bill and putting it into a binder or file folder? Grocery receipts? What about those slips I receive from the ATM? Are there documents I should request from the people I am renting from?

Now I'm hearing that one needs to save their monthly transit passes for tax purposes. I know some people save each and every receipt, and I've always wondered why.

I feel confident in my organizational skills, so once I know WHAT to keep, I will be more than happy to file it away in a neat and organized manner. I'm trying to become responsible when it comes to finances, so tracking all of these things may prove useful.

Lists, suggestions, links and resources are all very much appreciated.
posted by nathaole to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
when i was first out of school i kept just about everything in a plastic filing bin (organized in folders) just to see over time what exactly i go back and reference. In truth, not a whole heck of a lot. I'm in the process of scanning a lot and shredding. I plan on getting a safe at some point to keep the uber-important documents (passport, birth cert, car title, anything like that).

anyone have any experience with being disputed over an issue where you had a scanned copy of something and it wasn't "good" enough for whoever or whatever organization?
posted by joshgray at 7:33 AM on March 19, 2008

See if your local library has this book, At Your Fingertips. It is Canadian so it deals with legal requirements for retention up here, but the filing information is useful anywhere. I have found it quite useful in setting up a simple and useful home filing system with retention schedule. Written by records manager and archivist.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 9:41 AM on March 19, 2008

I found this Real Simple article very helpful when recently cleaning out a five-year backlog of paid bills, pay stubs, receipts, etc.
posted by korres at 10:16 AM on March 19, 2008

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