Guidelines for Shredding and Saving Personal Documents

Opinions may differ regarding how long to keep important documents around and available. Here are some recommendations you may wish to use while organizing your sensitive documents. Additional resource links are provided at the bottom of this page.

Document Type
Amount Of Time You Should
Keep Them
Canceled Personal Checks
1 year, then shred unless needed for tax,
warranty, or insurance
Pay Stubs 
1 year, then shred unless needed for tax,
warranty, or insurance
Credit Card, Debit Card, ATM Receipts
Until you verify transactions against
statements, then shred
Health Plan Statements Until bill with provider is settled, then shred
Statements that bear your signature,
credit account number, phone number,
social security number, or medical or
legal information
Shred as soon as possible
Warranty Cards, Instructions, and Receipts
for high-ticket items
Keep for as long as you own the items
Store Receipts for non-warranteed items
Keep receipt until no chance of return or
exchange, then shred
Cancelled Checks, Contracts, Invoices
and Receipts for any permanent home
Until you sell the house
Vehicle Purchase or Lease Documents,
warranties and maintenance records,
Until you sell the vehicle or return leased
 vehicle to the dealer.  Give documents to
the new owner when transaction is final
Stock, Bond, Mutual Fund Purchase/sale        
Keep for IRS reporting then file for as
long as you own the financial funds
Documentation for Federal and State Tax
Filing, including W-2 forms
3 - 7 years after filing tax return
Federal and State Income Tax Filings Forever

Documents that should be kept permanently in a fireproof  box or home safe:
  • Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate 
  • College Transcripts, Diplomas
  • Credit Card Agreements, Loan Agreements
  • Divorce Decree and Property Agreements
  • Mortgage Documents
  • Home Inventory
  • Insurance Policies
  • Passport (current)
  • Pension Plan and Retirement Plan Documents
  • Social Security Cards
  • Stock Purchase Agreements
  • Tax Returns
  • Will and Living Will
Additional Resources: