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How long should I keep financial records?

here’s a fine line between keeping financial records for a reasonable period of time and becoming a pack rat. A general rule of thumb is to keep financial records only as long as necessary. For example, you may want to keep ATM receipts only temporarily, until you’ve reconciled them with your bank statement. But if a document provides legal support and/or is hard to replace, you’ll want to keep it for a longer period or even indefinitely. It’s ultimately up to you to determine which records you should keep on hand and for how long, but here’s a suggested timetable for some common documents.

 

One year or less More than one year Indefinitely
Bank or credit union statements Tax returns and documentation* Birth, death, and marriage certificates
Credit card statements Mortgage contracts and documentation Adoption papers
Utility bills Property appraisals Citizenship papers
Annual insurance policies Annual retirement and investment statements Military discharge papers
Paycheck stubs Receipts for major purchases and home improvements Social Security card

 

*The IRS requires taxpayers to keep records that support income, deductions, and credits shown on their income tax returns until the period of limitations for that return runs out–generally three to seven years, depending on the circumstances. Visit irs.gov or consult your tax professional for information related to your specific situation.

 

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