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You are here: Home > Organizing Advice > Office > Which Papers to Keep and Which Papers to Shred

Are piles of papers taking over your home?  Do you wonder what to keep and what to shred? Well, here is your answer. 

Keep It
1. Keep for 1 month
  • Withdrawal and deposit slips (balance against your monthly statement).
  • Bills you paid that you are NOT writing off on your taxes (balance against your current bill then shred
2. Keep for 3 Months
  •  Receipts for minor purchases such as clothing (most stores have a 90-day or less return policy).
3. Keep for 1 Year 
  • Paycheck stubs.
  • Monthly statements for your bank accounts, credit card, brokerage, mutual funds and retirement accounts.
4. Keep for 7 Years 
  • W2s, 1099's and other guts of your tax return including donation receipts and receipts of personal and business deductions
  • Year end statements for bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage, mutual funds and retirement accounts.
5. Keep Indefinitely 
  • Tax returns. 
  • Receipts for major purchases such as appliances. 
  • Real estate and residence records. 
  • Wills and trusts. 
Shred It

Utility Bills - once you get the next month's bill and verify that your last payment was applied correctly you can shred the bill unless you are writing the bill off or being reimbursed. If not, SHRED 'EM!

Monthly Statements and Paycheck Stubs - you only need to keep these for one year. Retain your year end statements for 7 years along with your tax returns, but shred the rest.

Checkbook carbon copies - you usually only need to keep these if you are using them as receipts for items you are writing off. Ideally keep the receipt, but if you lost the receipt a carbon check copy could be used. Simply put the carbon copy in with that year's tax return and shred the rest.

Shred everything that has your personal information on it.  Itís estimated that 68% of identity theft happens as a result of paper documents stolen from trash bins and recycling bins.  Every home should have a crosscut paper shredder.

Recommended Home Paper Shredder
Sleek, stylish, durable and lightweight Royal crosscut personal paper shredders are available at for a great value (up to 70% off of MSRP).  They are perfect for home, dorm or small office.

What to do with your Shredded Paper
Bring it to your local humane society.  They will make soft animal beds out of it.  Or, you can toss it into your recycling bin.

By getting organized you create more time, space and energy in your life for the people and things that matter most to you. Your life is worth so much more than spending time looking through the piles of paper on your countertop to find the one piece you need right now.

For more tips on organizing your home, life and papers, log onto

May this be your best and most organized year yet!

Heidi DeCoux is a Professional Organizer, Public Speaker, and Author of the Fast-Filing Method audio program available at  She is dedicated to helping people live their best lives.  She offers a FREE monthly e-newsletter with tips and solutions on how to make your life easier, calmer and more organized.  To sign up, visit her website at and click on e-solutions.