Give your Paperwork a Spring Cleaning

Have you ever looked around the work place, and been horrified at the mountains of paperwork and other clutter, which litters desks all around the office? Sure, you want to clean it all up, but you’re worried about throwing away something that might come back to haunt you, or that has some kind of value beyond the next couple weeks. Here’s how you can figure out what needs to be retained and what doesn’t.

Keep these documents forever

The types of documents you should retain more or less indefinitely are loan documents and any statements showing loan payoffs. If there’s ever any question about loans being paid off, you definitely want to have documentation in hand to substantiate your position. Warranties are another thing that you need to hang onto indefinitely, or at least for the life of the warranty itself. Also in this category are any statements from investment accounts, as well as end-of-year bank statements. Needless to say, all your important personal documents should be retained forever as well, e.g. marriage license, passport, birth certificate, and last will and testament.

Retain these between 3 and 7 years

In this group, you should include receipts that show business expenses, medical expenses, and all documents which support your income tax statements. You’d be surprised how often tax documents need to be dug out to prove something or other to local or federal agencies, and income tax statements or supporting documentation will answer all those questions.

Retain for one year

The vast majority of all the clutter in your office probably falls into this category – which means the paperwork mountains can definitely be reduced. This should include most of your short-term documents like utility bills, monthly statements from bank accounts or about investments, pay stubs if you receive them, and any bills from credit card companies. When the one-year limitation has expired, feel free to dispose of all these forms of paperwork through a shredder, so that no security breach can become possible.