What Papers to Shred and What to Save



Credit card offers. Bank account statements. Utility bills. Mortgage statements. Junk mail with your name on it. The pile of paper never ends! And what do you do with all of it? You know that you don’t need to keep every item, but it’s hard to decide what needs to be kept and what you can get rid of. Not to mention that so many of these papers have personal and sensitive information on them, and you just can’t throw that kind of stuff in the garbage. With the threat of identity theft so prevalent today, you have to be very careful. So what do you do?


Don’t worry, the Professional Organizer in NYC is here to help you sort through the madness. Here are a couple of simple guidelines to sort through the endless pile of papers and decide what to save and what should be shredded.


To save: Some items should never be shredded or thrown away. These items include essential records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, Social Security cards, and military discharge papers. An offsite location such as a safe deposit box is the most secure spot for these types of documents. Copies of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are also important documents that should be stored in your safe deposit box. If you must keep them in your home, they should be placed in a portable, fire proof box so that you can take them with you in an emergency situation.


Other items that must be saved are tax documents, including federal and state returns as well as the supporting records. Because your taxes can be audited at any time, it’s important to keep these documents on hand. You can check out the IRS website for specific guidelines. It is always best to check with an accountant or financial advisor for their recommendation as they understand your specific situation.


To shred: You should shred any document that has any of the following information on it: account numbers, birth dates, passwords, PINs, signatures, and Social Security numbers. Additionally, it might be good to consider shredding any document that has your name, phone number, and email address on it, including junk mail.


Once you have sorted through your paperwork and have collected all that needs to be shredded, you can choose to shred in the comfort of your own home or locate a shredding event in your local community. Another option is that many neighborhood office supply stores, like Staples, offer shredding services. It’s important to make sure that you safely destroy these personal documents and by doing so, you can free your home from more paper clutter!


Using these simple guidelines to decide what documents to save and what to shred, you will be well on your way to a home free of paper clutter!

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