To Keep or Not to Keep: How to Manage Your Important Documents

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Pile of documents on desk stack up high waiting to be managed.

WHNT News 19 — Tax season has flown by, more than half the year is gone, and important documents continue to accumulate. However, when it comes to reviewing your financial records, it is important to know what to keep, what to discard, and when. Here are some tips on how to safely clear your clutter.

  • Canceled checks: All canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations, or other improvements to a property you own should be kept indefinitely. The same holds true for non-deductible contributions to a retirement account. Checks that support your tax returns must be kept for a minimum of seven years. All other checks may be discarded after a year.
  • Deposit, ATM, credit card and debit card receipts: Save them until the transaction appears on your statement and you have verified that the information is accurate.
  • Credit card and bank account statements: Save those with no tax or other long-term significance for about a year, but save the rest for up to seven years. If you get a detailed annual statement, keep that and discard the corresponding monthly statements. Also, be sure to mark closed deposit accounts as such.
  • Credit card contracts and other loan agreements: Keep for as long as the account is active; they may be needed in the event you have a dispute with your lender over the terms of your contract.
  • Documentation of your purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and other investments: Retain these while you own the investment and then seven years after that.

To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, be sure to shred any document that contains a Social Security number, bank account number or other personal and financial information before disposing.

To help you dispose of documents and electronics safely, the BBB of North Alabama will conduct its next Shred Day Event: Saturday, October 22nd from 8:30 am – 12:00 Noon at Redstone Federal Credit Union, 220 Wynn Drive in Huntsville, AL. For details, call 256-533-1642.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to

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