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How do you decide which papers to keep or to shred?

(26 Posts)
Heirofthedog Fri 29-Jan-16 09:55:59

I'm having a proper clear out. Or trying anyway. Have realised that two shelves of A4 folders of paperwork is probably not strictly necessary. But how do you decide what's worth keeping and what's not worth the space? Of course I have most of my accounts online these days but what happens if I pop my clogs suddenly and no one knows how to access any of my accounts? Or that they exist?

Teetime Fri 29-Jan-16 09:59:09

I don't keep bank statements as we bank on line, utilities are on line so we don't even see those. I keep guarantees providing I still have the goods and they are in date, receipts (in case of burglary - this happened to us once and the insurance company wanted proof of purchase of big things). All legal docs, tax and pension paperwork. That's about it. " small filing cabinet drawers and we cull it annually.

mollie Fri 29-Jan-16 10:36:05

We have this debate almost daily in my house. OH keeps everything, even personalised fliers, I am ruthless and throw everything out apart from guarantees and letters relating to services etc. These are generally shredded after a year, or when the next one supersedes what I have. My filing is one small box, OH has eight big ones!

henetha Fri 29-Jan-16 10:41:20

I'm drowning under a sea of old paperwork.. but my son recently gave me a shredder. I am taking the hint and starting to offload some of it.
But, I agree, it is hard to know what we should keep.

tanith Fri 29-Jan-16 12:18:21

I keep paperwork relating to the house, and annual billings like the Council Tax and tv licence. All car related stuff and receipts for most big purchases, banking and other bills are done online.
I shred everything else and anything apart from those above are shredded after a year. I have one small metal file cabinet the size of a laptop bag and it all fits in there..

Greymary Fri 29-Jan-16 13:07:35

I find this an enormous problem. I have been trying to sort drawers and files recently. In one drawer I had kept instructions, receipts, guarantees and repair invoices for every tv we'd ever had blush.

I have more than 2 shelves of box files of paperwork. I've recently put 6 box files in the loft as I'm running out of space.

I don't do online banking, but how many years statements should I keep? At the moment I have everything going back 10 years, and my bank sends me so much paperwork.
Household utilities I shred every 2 years. I was told 6 years for tax papers, is that correct?

I really hate dealing with paperwork.

tanith Fri 29-Jan-16 13:48:30

Greymary why do you keep bank statements for 10yrs its really not necessary , you don't have to do anything with online banking other then just look at your account to check it if you really don't want to do any banking online, you can go paperless with your bank and get online statements for everything and if you need to print them you can. I used to keep them for a year but now I just look at my accounts online to keep check.
Go through your receipts and instructions and guarantees and get rid of anything you no longer own.
You have to make a start to reduce the amount you will feel so much lighter without all that 'stuff'.

M0nica Fri 29-Jan-16 15:35:38

I keep anything that might need to be argued and figures checked back some years for 6 years (bank statements, utility bills, financial documents). The tax authorities generally do not go back further than 6 years when doing checks unless they have already proved you are cheating them, then they can go back as far as they like.

DD had long prolonged argument with British Gas -and 5 years later they put an adverse report on her credit record. She was very glad that she had kept the original bills and correrspondance to re-argue and finally prove her point and get the adverse report removed.

Keep bills for large purchases in case you have to make an insurance claim any time and they ask when you bought an item and how much you paid for it.

I am generally a ruthless thrower-outer and will not keep anything longer than absolutely necessary, but I always err on the side of caution with anything involving money and proof of purchase or utility payments.

kittylester Fri 29-Jan-16 15:40:25

Whatever you shred will be needed at some stage - at least that's what DH says having spent days trying to trace the details of a loan that he is sure we should get some money back on!

NanaandGrampy Fri 29-Jan-16 17:39:55

I have a hand held scanner. I scan everything , name it appropriately and save it on an external hard drive. Then every month , I delete all folders dated outside of a 6 year window.

I even scan instruction book covers , so if I give away an item, I can find it online and email it over.

M0nica Fri 29-Jan-16 18:15:45

HMRC records need to be a full tax year. Our papers loosely fill 2 drawers of a filing cabinet so take very little space. I do not think I could be bothered to scan everything. Many bills now come in electronically anyway and are filed that way as well. We back up our computers regularly.

Florentine Sat 30-Jan-16 09:56:13

it is hard, I agree. I stand by the principle of little and -relatively- often. It's amazing, looking at a folder after a number of months/years after a partial cull, how much more stuff (or perhaps just a few items) I find I'm able to now discard. It's an ongoing process, in other words.

Leyshir Sat 30-Jan-16 10:40:52

Just a thought but my youngest son treasures an old dog license that belonged to his long gone grand father.
Sometimes our paper rubbish tells the family story.

barbaralynne Sat 30-Jan-16 10:47:24

Greymary, as a bookkeeper/ accountant you are right that you need to keep anything tax related for 6 years. Although I do online banking and all bills are paid by DD, I don't trust the banking systems and ezpecially not HMRC, so print off my bills and bank statements and keep for 6 years.

Minder Sat 30-Jan-16 12:35:12

I was a registered childminder for many years. I retired over a year ago. I'm now 63 and I have to keep some of my paperwork for over 20 years....... Does his mean if I ever go into a nursing home, I have to take it all with me... grin

marpau Sat 30-Jan-16 13:57:08

Heir I have one sheet of paper listing all accounts I hold which is in an envelope with our wills I update it annually so if we pop our cloggs it will be found sons know where the wills are

SwimHome Sat 30-Jan-16 14:25:59

One set of our Grandparents seem to have kept everything and we have boxes of old deeds, bills, letters, accounts, photographs, BDM notices, wedding cards and funeral services. We refer to this as the family archive and as much of it dates from the early 1800s it is now of considerable historical interest as well as being a constant source of loving reminders as we go through and sort it into some sort of order for the next generation(s) to enjoy. It stirs countless memories not only of people and events, but of stories told over the years. Beyond price.

crun Sat 30-Jan-16 14:54:32

I keep everything. Bank statements, utility bills, credit card statements including transaction slips, Tesco till receipts, insurance renewals, payslips, all going back to the 1980s or 1970s. Someone on a forum recently started a thread asking what was the first thing you bought on a credit card, I found it: petrol, date, place, the lot. If I stacked it all up in one pile I doubt it would be much more than a couple of feet high, my medical records take up nearly that much space.

The current stuff lives in an A4 filing box, the recent archives in the sideboard, and the rest in a small pile in a cupboard in the bedroom.

Foxyferret Sat 30-Jan-16 15:22:21

My Dad recently died and as executor I had to deal with paperwork. What a performance, he had 7 or 8 different bank/bs accounts, shares, pensions etc. He was 94 when he passed so you can imagine he had accumulated lots of stuff. He claimed pension credit and the DWP had me writing to all these people as the wanted statements going back to 2004. I sent off all the info and then I had to do it all again for my mum (still alive) because someone at DWP failed to do their job properly and hadn't realised it was a joint claim with my mother. To cut a long story short, after 14 months following my dad's death, much photo copying, letters, phone calls and stamps, they decided he did'nt owe any money to them. This is what we knew in the first place as at the end of it all, my mum got about £3000. He had been the victim of a scam years ago and lost a lot of money. It was all very upsetting for my mum, what a way to treat a war veteran. Just a note, I have put all my passwords and PIN numbers in with my will.

namo Sat 30-Jan-16 15:31:56

I remember Martin Lewis on his ITV programme on 22nd January said 'keep bank and financial documents forever'. Take photos and store on hard drive. His reason was the possible future claims which might need evidence. (Who could have foretold the extent of PPI mis-selling?) I'm just passing on the information in case it's of use.

crun Sat 30-Jan-16 15:35:53

Seeing SwimHome mention memories, I've still got handbooks for old appliances that I no longer have, too. I'm sat here looking through some of my father's old papers here now:

How about an insurance on the old house in Leeds from July 1955? smile
Or a Royal Liver policy from July 1930
Television repair receipt: £3-8s-8d, 17th Oct 1960 (From the local furniture shop!)
Wheelbarrow: £2-15s, 25/3/61
There's the surveyor's invoice for my parents first house in 1951, and the estate agents picture of it when they sold it. I've got the estate agent's details for all the houses they viewed when they bought this one too.

Linbrikat Sun 28-Feb-16 17:04:49

We tried to reclaim our PPI payments but the company said they couldn't find any records for us and asked for proof. The payments came from my bank account but when we last moved I threw away all my old statements so it seems there's nothing we can do now and we've lost out.

annodomini Sun 28-Feb-16 17:25:33

Linbrikat, when I needed to track down items on bank accounts going back several years, I was able to find accounts going back several years on the bank's web site. Could you do the same to find your PPI records?

annodomini Sun 28-Feb-16 17:26:25

Sorry, I seem to be repeating myself!

Maggiemaybe Sun 28-Feb-16 17:45:11

Linbrikat. our PPI claim required proof that we'd paid it, and the building society claimed not to have kept records of our payments once the mortgage was paid off shock Being a hoarder, I managed to dig out mortgage statements showing protection insurance payments dating back to 1977 blush One in the eye for the BS, and over £2000 refunded to us.

I've also unearthed documentary proof of my DH being enrolled into a company pension scheme for the last two years of working with his first employer, back in the 70s. The firm has claimed they have no record of him joining the scheme. Let's see them wriggle out of it now....