WHICH PAPERS NEED TO BE FILED AND WHICH CAN BE THROWN AWAY? WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD BE SHREDDED?
File permanent records, such as legal documents (marriage certificates, contracts, wills, etc.) and financial documents (receipts of major purchases, mortgages, tax returns, and documents used to determine the numbers for your tax returns). Toss paper that contains information you can easily find elsewhere, such as online with a simple search. Shred anything with identifying information (account numbers, social security numbers, etc.).
I use some basic guidelines for shredding. If it has information on it that can be used to access information about you that you wouldn’t want published on Facebook, like how much money you make, what illnesses you have, or what medications you take, then shred it. If it can be used to steal your identity (checks, credit card information, social security numbers, etc.), shred it.
My best tip is to keep less paper. Before you decide to keep and file something, think about whether you could find it online if you needed it. Just because you have a file for something, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. If you decide to keep a piece of paper, take 10 seconds and file it rather than putting it aside to file later. If you’re putting off filing because your file cabinet drawers are stuffed full, take some time to clean them out.
Make decisions based on what makes you comfortable and what you have space for. If you only have space for a crate of office papers, then that’s how much you can keep. A lot of stuff you can find online now. You can log into a utility or bank and get at least a year of information. If you file a document, put a note on the folder that says how long you want to keep it. Or when you are done paying a bill, you can scan it and throw it in an electronic folder or use one of the apps on page 19.