Real Simple Magazine published an article in February 2004 with guidelines on what to save and what to shred. Please follow this link for their ideas:

Keep for 1 month
* Credit Card receipts
* Sales receipts for minor purchases
* Withdrawal and deposit slips. (Toss after you’ve checked them against your bank

Keep for 1 year
* Paycheck stubs
* Monthly bank, credit-card, brokerage, mutual-fund, and retirement account statements

Keep for 6 years
* W-2s, 1099s, and the other guts of your tax returns
* Year-end credit-card statements, brokerage and mutual-fund summaries

Keep Indefinitely
* Tax returns
* Receipts for major purchases
* Real estate and residence records
* Wills and trusts

Keep in Safe Deposit Box
* Birth and death certificates
* Marriage licenses
* Insurance policies
Source: Real Simple, February 2004

One modification I personally make to those guidelines is to keep my receipts for minor items for three months rather than just one. Many stores’ return policy is three months with a receipt.

One item not listed on Real Simple’s list is what to do with utility statements such as phone, electric, etc. These items are really a personal preference. At most, I keep mine for about 6 months.

Keep in mind that most statements are available online through your bank/ service provider. Let them keep them for you but make sure to check how long they will keep them accessible to you.

Another site I found helpful while composing this newsletter is: