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Thread: Old files--decluttering

  1. #1
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    Old files--decluttering

    Help!! I am attempting to declutter paper files and spent yesterday on taxes. I have returns dating back to 1998, bereft of supporting docs, although I kept W'2s for those years. Did I need to?

    I am trying to figure out what to keep with respect to back up information on house repairs, house information, because that is a category you keep forever, right, until you have that final house sale and show that you did not make more than x on the house??

    So with respect to house files, what do you keep? I have things like taxes on houses several houses ago, from years prior to 2015--am keeping 2015, 2016, and 2017 intact as they are the last three years of tax files.

    But what exactly do you keep on these old houses? What about title info, taxes, insurance, deeds--for houses you no longer own? What about repair receipts, receipts for things like fences and furnaces??

  2. #2
    Senior Member Sad Eyed Lady's Avatar
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    If it is for something you no longer own I think you should just dump it, you have no reason for them especially if it has been awhile. I could see if a house had been sold recently the new owner might have some questions and you could supply the document, (like when furnace was repaired/serviced etc.), but other than that there is no need to keep them. Shred, and send to recycle if you can.
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    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Tybee: We're still in our starter home that we bought 33 years ago, so I am not the definitive voice of authority here. I would think you would only need to keep the home improvement records for 7 years after the sale of the home, since 7 years is the recommended record retention period for tax records. I do tend to err on the side of caution with records retention though!

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    For my farm which I sold in 2014, my accountant said to keep for 10 years for peace of mind. The usual standard, I know, is 7.

    It was hard to declutter all the records (purchase and sold agreements, old photos, major purchase records, renos) of previous properties that we have owned over the years as they were part of my history. I kept thinking about this site and the comments made by those who had to clean up old stuff that had no meaning for them. It only totalled about a bankers box in volume in my case but I got rid of it all except necessary tax records as a result. I don't miss any of it either.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Timely question. My DH just purged the contents of two file cabinets he had in his office, but I actually had stored tax records and other assorted things in two of his drawers. I didn't even know they were there, which should have been a tip-off for me to just dump them all. But now they're sitting in a pile in MY office while I decide what do do with them. These tax records go back to the 80s.

    Then I have a file called "Cathy 1976" where I found the credit card statement with the Rainbow Room charge from the night DH proposed to me. I CAN'T throw that out!

    My "hoard" has always been documents, but I really need to get rid of this stuff. I even keep stuff that makes me feel bad, like when we were in the crapper and had all kinds of creditors after us. Why would I keep those records??? I don't want that bad Karma around!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    Timely question. My DH just purged the contents of two file cabinets he had in his office, but I actually had stored tax records and other assorted things in two of his drawers. I didn't even know they were there, which should have been a tip-off for me to just dump them all. But now they're sitting in a pile in MY office while I decide what do do with them. These tax records go back to the 80s.

    Then I have a file called "Cathy 1976" where I found the credit card statement with the Rainbow Room charge from the night DH proposed to me. I CAN'T throw that out!

    My "hoard" has always been documents, but I really need to get rid of this stuff. I even keep stuff that makes me feel bad, like when we were in the crapper and had all kinds of creditors after us. Why would I keep those records??? I don't want that bad Karma around!!!
    So sweet about the Rainbow Room receipt. That is why I like going through files, to find things like that,and no, I never throw that kind of thing away.
    Unfortunately, it's the other stuff that is hard to throw away, like you said--the files that show you got through something awful, and it's over. Like when I got audited--I successfully fought it and won, but it was kind of terrifying, and I think it was something like 30,000 dollars of medical expenses-- how could I ever reconstruct that again, in case they decide to come after me again, even though they closed out the audit.

    It's like I have financial PTSD and keep the stuff to protect myself.

    And you can't just throw it all out because there's always something really helpful in there--yesterday, doing medical records, I found a dvd with my husband's hip xray, so we have that as a baseline because they are watching him for a replacement.

  7. #7
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    So sweet about the Rainbow Room receipt. That is why I like going through files, to find things like that,and no, I never throw that kind of thing away.
    Unfortunately, it's the other stuff that is hard to throw away, like you said--the files that show you got through something awful, and it's over. Like when I got audited--I successfully fought it and won, but it was kind of terrifying, and I think

    And you can't just throw it all out because there's always something really helpful in there--yesterday, doing medical records, I found a dvd with my husband's hip xray, so we have that as a baseline because they are watching him for a replacement.
    ok, but here I have to interject—you CAN throw it all out if it is properly organized. The hip xray should have been in an entirely separate file with medical stuff.

    See? I wont let you people slide. Organization is key.

    I am doing a major shuffle of financial assets and while it makes me feel powerful, it is extremely annoying to me that we let ourselves get into this fix. 67% of our investible assets are in stocks. That is just stupid. Fortunately, we have been lucky as well as stupid, but time to rachet down that percentage.

    I will complain about DH here, he is our financial manager. He seems to me to lack executive overview. I just don't
    uNderstand it. He visits these investment managers and they flap their jaws at each other but what is our philosophy? Well, not their fault, we have accounts with several companies so no one manager has the entire picture. This is OUR fault.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    ok, but here I have to interject—you CAN throw it all out if it is properly organized. The hip xray should have been in an entirely separate file with medical stuff.

    See? I wont let you people slide. Organization is key.

    I am doing a major shuffle of financial assets and while it makes me feel powerful, it is extremely annoying to me that we let ourselves get into this fix. 67% of our investible assets are in stocks. That is just stupid. Fortunately, we have been lucky as well as stupid, but time to rachet down that percentage.

    I will complain about DH here, he is our financial manager. He seems to me to lack executive overview. I just don't
    uNderstand it. He visits 5ese investment managers and they jaw away but get an overview? Nope. Well, not their fault, we have accounts with several companies so no one manager has the entire picture. This is OUR fault.
    Iris, I think you misunderstood. Hip xray WAS in the banker box of medical records. But I was going through those and purging what I no longer needed--all the prescription copay records, etc, going back 10 years, I think, and I am not keeping those.

    But if I don't carefully look at everything in the medical box, then the medical box gets bigger and bigger and I have to drag it around when we move.

    I am purging every document hoard in the house, or at least pruning. I just can't bring myself to toss a whole box without looking at it.

    Went out and bought a garbage can for dh to make a brn barrel. He needs to be involved in this too, if just for the catharsis and letting go that is involved. I can't do this alone.

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    Oh Tybee, I feel your pain and frustration about the paper hoard! I keep trying to whittle down and make small steps, but just too much stuff...all pretty well organized but still THERE! Good luck.

  10. #10
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    Iris, I think you misunderstood. Hip xray WAS in the banker box of medical records. But I was going through those and purging what I no longer needed--all the prescription copay records, etc, going back 10 years, I think, and I am not keeping those.

    But if I don't carefully look at everything in the medical box, then the medical box gets bigger and bigger and I have to drag it around when we move.

    I am purging every document hoard in the house, or at least pruning. I just can't bring myself to toss a whole box without looking at it.

    Went out and bought a garbage can for dh to make a brn barrel. He needs to be involved in this too, if just for the catharsis and letting go that is involved. I can't do this alone.
    ok, then, good for you for having all medical stuff together!

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