Over Insurance on Record Keeping

At what point is keeping a record of something holding you back? Is it really useful to keep your bank statements for the last seven years? If so what for? Are we getting too much insurance for ourselves with our paperwork which will likely never use again. Ever.

I thought of those questions a while ago and I’ve started a program to reduce the amount of paperwork in my house that requires me to do anything. First most of my bills now come automatically out of my account. Then I signed up for electronic bank account statements and Visa bill statements.

So far I would estimate I have eliminated about 1/3 of the paperwork I used to deal with at home. The more interesting fact is I have yet to need one single piece of paper that I am no longer keeping a hard copy of.

Now I’ve been thinking of taking it to the next level and stop keeping Visa slips and bank slips for longer than one month. One month should give me enough time to check that the slip in question did show up in the account. After that they will be shredded and tossed out. The only exception to this rule will be any slip that could be used in taxes. Those slips will stay on file regardless until seven years have passed.

I aware I might run into a situation where I would wish I did not get rid of some of this paperwork, but in the end I feel the risk is well worth getting my time back.

Once this phase is done I’m not sure what is left to reduce. Does any one have any ideas on how to further reduce paperwork at home? If so please share.

7 thoughts on “Over Insurance on Record Keeping”

  1. We bought a filing cabinet last year to help with the filing (instead of boxes). One of the decisions I made was to keep one year of visa statements instead of thirteen. Yes, I had all my statements from 1994 onward…

    My only suggestion to reduce paperwork is to go through the paperwork regularly to make sure it’s still relevant and timely.

  2. If you don’t have one already, get a shredder. Set aside a few hours, go through your files, and decide what should be kept and for how long. Everything else gets shredded. Unless you have a business or a LOT of accounts, you shouldn’t need more than a simple 2-drawer filing cabinet for everything.

    To make the paper trail easier to manage, spend the money and get a GOOD filing cabinet. The cheap $50 ones are almost useless.

  3. When my grandmother passed away, we found bank statements from 30 years ago in her things. Clearly unnecessary. The flip side would be that I’d worry if I was throwing something out that I might need (shredding monthly statements every month seems a little dangerous to me, sure you probably won’t need them, but what if you do?).

    I’d be tempted to have 12 folders as a “cache”. Put your statements in the current month’s folder. At the end of the month, shred everything in the oldest folder, and re-use it for the current statements and whatnot.

    That way you don’t have to think about anything (just throw statements in the current folder), and you’re not accumulating junk. Most importantly, you never have to review the folders (unless you find you need something, then you only have to dig through 1 months worth of statements).

  4. Excellent question…what receipts should we be keeping?

    For our car I have a file and keep any receipts related to repair items with a warranty like brake repairs.

    Why are we so reluctant to throw out MC receipts? We have no problem chucking cash receipts for the same type of expenditure. Is there any rationale to this?

    I like the idea of electronic banking but I don’t trust anyone that much.

  5. I have a credit card that provides an extended warranty on items purchased with the card. So I keep those relevant receipts for a year. Anything else, I keep 3 months worth just in case there’s some kind of dispute over a payment and then head over to the local picnic park and burn the receipts in one of the pit BBQs.

  6. lol WhiteEagle. Last year I had so much paperwork to shred that I ended up burning it all in a bucket in my backyard.


  7. Mr. Cheap,

    I really like that 12 folder idea. I would just modify it a bit and add #13 for tax stuff.


    Thanks for all the ideas. I have always shred our old documents. As for the burning idea, that would provide a lot of starting material for my fireplace in the winter. I wonder if my Visa statements give off more heat than a newspaper flyer?


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