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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    4

    Post How Long Should You Hold Onto Financial Records

    My question involves personal finance in the State of: OHIO

    I have Banking Statements for Checking and Savings Accounts which you get each month and also Bills from Health Insurance Company that they paid your Doctor and Hospital Bills and also I get bills each month for my House and Auto Insurance Bills do you need to keep them each month and if so how many years do you need to keep them? Also does one need to keep your Electric, Water, Phone and Heating bills each month? If so how long should you keep them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,485

    Default Re: How Long Should One Hold Onto Papers

    The best answer I can give you is keep all your documents and records forever.

    And the easiest way to do that is get a flatbed scanner and scan and catalog them on to your computer. Then back up the files to an external hard drive, preferably two - one that backs up new files nightly, and another that's separate from your computer that you can add to periodically for redundancy.

    Might take you a couple of hours a day for a few weeks (I did mine several years ago) and then all you have to do is scan each document or bill as you get it and pay it and then you don't have to keep the papers.

    I have my scanner right next to me. When I get a bill or a document, I scan it and then toss the paper. I do it as each document is generated. Takes a minute or two and I don't let anything pile up.

    Then you don't have to be concerned with purging old records every few years because you're never going to fill up a 500GB or 1TB hard drive.

    If you don't want to do any of that then keep your documents for at least the length of the statutes of limitations for any particular type of lawsuit.

    If you don't want to bother trying to figure that out, then just keep ten years worth to be safe, with two exceptions.

    If you own a house, keep all the records for as long as you own the house and then for 10 years after you sell it.

    Keep tax records forever so when you go on Social Security Retirement you can make sure the SS records match your tax records. I have mine going back to my first job in 1966. But they're all on the computer and they don't take up much space.

    All of the above are not legal requirements, they are just my suggestions based on a lifetime of experience. You'll probably get other opinions, but the choice is yours.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,932

    Default Re: How Long Should One Hold Onto Papers

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    The best answer I can give you is keep all your documents and records forever.

    And the easiest way to do that is get a flatbed scanner and scan and catalog them on to your computer. Then back up the files to an external hard drive, preferably two - one that backs up new files nightly, and another that's separate from your computer that you can add to periodically for redundancy.

    Might take you a couple of hours a day for a few weeks (I did mine several years ago) and then all you have to do is scan each document or bill as you get it and pay it and then you don't have to keep the papers.

    I have my scanner right next to me. When I get a bill or a document, I scan it and then toss the paper. I do it as each document is generated. Takes a minute or two and I don't let anything pile up.

    Then you don't have to be concerned with purging old records every few years because you're never going to fill up a 500GB or 1TB hard drive.

    If you don't want to do any of that then keep your documents for at least the length of the statutes of limitations for any particular type of lawsuit.

    If you don't want to bother trying to figure that out, then just keep ten years worth to be safe, with two exceptions.

    If you own a house, keep all the records for as long as you own the house and then for 10 years after you sell it.

    Keep tax records forever so when you go on Social Security Retirement you can make sure the SS records match your tax records. I have mine going back to my first job in 1966. But they're all on the computer and they don't take up much space.

    All of the above are not legal requirements, they are just my suggestions based on a lifetime of experience. You'll probably get other opinions, but the choice is yours.
    I agree with you to a great extent...but I disagree a bit as well. Unfortunately what you propose works for the truly tech savy, but is also limited to the limitations of the technology as well. At some point, unless you are truly on top of the tech and re-backup those files to new technology, you are going to lose the oldest data. Not because you don't have backups, but because you don't have current tech that can read those backups.

    I personally feel that keeping your tax returns and the backup info for those returns, forever, is wise. Even if you never need it, it can be an interesting bit of information for your descendants...a piece of history so to speak. Surprisingly it also can help you on a state level, because while the IRS only goes back a certain number of years, many states go back forever.

    When it comes to monthly expenses, the odds of ever needing anything going back more than three years is so slim that it would almost be silly to attempt to keep that data.

    We, as a firm, keep our client's data as long as we can do so without technology hampering us. That generally is about 10-12 years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,485

    Default Re: How Long Should One Hold Onto Papers

    Quote Quoting llworking
    View Post
    I agree with you to a great extent...but I disagree a bit as well. Unfortunately what you propose works for the truly tech savy, but is also limited to the limitations of the technology as well. At some point, unless you are truly on top of the tech and re-backup those files to new technology, you are going to lose the oldest data. Not because you don't have backups, but because you don't have current tech that can read those backups.
    I think anybody who found this website and figured out how to post a question has enough savvy to handle the job. After all, they probably have smart phones and know how to text. I don't do either so they are ahead of me there.

    As for the tech to read the backups there's two ways to handle that. With people buying new computers periodically, even if it's every 10 years, it's easier now than it ever was to transfer or copy the files and photos from the old computer to the new computer using flash drives or portable hard drives.

    There will likely always be conversion software to convert old file formats to new file formats.

    Keeping a separate drive where the files and photos are just copied makes them easily readable.

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