7 steps to spring clean your finances
Spring cleaning? We can't do your manual labor, but we can save you some time when it comes to going through piles of paperwork.
This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.
When you get around to cleaning, don't forget the paperwork. Since tax time is when we're often sifting through paper, it's also a good time to spring clean the family finances.
In the video below, Stacy Johnson takes a look at what paperwork you can trash and what you need to keep. Check it out, and read on for more advice to simplify your life.
As Stacy said, we all have paper we don't need. So let's talk about cutting through the clutter and creating an organized system that will save you time in the future. The best place to start is where the video left off: how to handle what you're throwing away.
Identity theft is a big issue (as I recently learned from personal experience). And Dumpster diving is one way crooks can get the info they need. Shredding anything with with potentially useful information is one way to protect yourself.
- Old utility statements.
- Reconciled bank statements and ATM slips.
- Reconciled credit card statements.
- Old receipts and canceled checks (unless they're needed for taxes or proof of purchase for warranties).
- Instruction manuals for things you no longer have.
- Expired warranties.
- Expired insurance policies.
Some paper will be with you for life:
- Birth and marriage certificates.
- Divorce, adoption, and immigration paperwork.
- Legal documentation, including powers of attorney, wills, titles, deeds, and contracts.
- Car titles.
Then there's the paperwork you'll need to keep, but not forever: receipts for big purchases (for insurance purposes), and the final bills of any service you drop (Internet, cable, phone) in case they say you owe them more.
For the most part, only tax cheats need to keep paperwork longer: Under-report your income by 25% or more, and the IRS can go back six years to audit. File a fraudulent return, or fail to file one, and there's no limit, which is why everyone will also want to keep final copies of their returns forever, as proof they filed. Want more specifics? Look at IRS Publication 552.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
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