Part 2 – What to Shred and When

Shredding is great fun but not if you shred the wrong documents. Here’s your guide:


Credit card receipts after reconciliation with the credit card statement. Don’t shred receipts needed for tax purses or warranties. Attach those receipts to either the user manual or the warranty.

Shred cancelled checks and debit receipts [again excepting those needed for taxes or warranties. My bank has a picture, front and back of all my checks, so a paper copy, mailed by the bank is redundant.]

Yearly Shredpaper-shredding-machine1

• Monthly retirement and investment account statements after they are reconciled with their year end statement.

• The monthly bank statement IF you have reconciled with the year end statement.

• Pay stubs after reconciliation with W-2s, 1099s or equivalents, the IRS has their own copy!

• Repeating monthly bill. Check it against last year’s to see that there is not some freak leak. [My utility company gives me a usage graph this year and last year, so I don’t need to do this comparison and I can just shred last years statement.]

After 7 or 10 years:
• Year end bank statements [if  not needed for tax purposes]

• Any titles, deeds, or surveys to any cars and/or property not owned for 7 years.


• Certificates of birth, divorce, death.

• Military service records [I have been hearing a horror story of a retired serviceman who is trying to get disability, only to have the Army “losing” his records….]

• Wills and Trusts, revocable and non revocable

• Power of Attorney documents

• Social Security reports

• Year- end retirement statements and policies

• Loans and mortgage paid-in-full docs

• Diplomas and transcripts

• Medical records

* Current resume

• Evaluation and receipts of valuables [art, silver, jewels]

Many of these documents really belong out of the home. A Safe deposit box is good. But make sure someone else who you trust is also on the safe deposit list and has a key. Why? If something happens to you, you die or are incapacitated, they can get whatever is needed.

Next up: Organize what you have and lose even MORE paper!

Why Push Declutter so much?

Why do I keep talking about reducing/decluttering (however you want to call it)?  It’s simple: one big reason is we are in an avalanche of new knowledge.  If you want to understand just how big that avalanche is, take 5 minutes to watch the video at Your comments are welcome.

Clear the Paper Monster

filing clutterI have too much paper. I think I need to keep it….ALL? No, truth is, I don’t need much of it PERIOD.  But how to do it so I don’t start screaming when I tossed the wrong thing? Here’s my guidance – a first pass if you will – because I, and possibly you, need an effective system to thin the flotsam from the jetsam.

1. Where do I keep my manuals? I go there and toss everyone for products I no longer own.

2. Set aside all the manuals for the major appliances I own. I may need them and  should pass them on when I sell. I use an expandable plastic envelope. (It’s pretty fat…ummm)

3. Go online and check to see if the manufacturer of the appliances and devices have a manual on their site. If they do, download it and put it in a folder “Manuals”. Then toss the paper copies.

4. Shred (shredding can be fun!) the following:

• Credit Card applications.

• Unwanted paper that has my address, account number or access information: birth dates, driver license numbers, luggage tags, medical information, passwords, report cards, signatures, social security numbers, used airline tickets.

• Credit checks on tenants or home helpers. Passports, visas, any old identification cards.

That’s the start. This series will be continued!

PS – when disposing of the shreds (cross cut recommended) toss part into recycle and part into trash. Yes, it’s no quite as environmentally sensitive, BUT it’s a great deal safer from prying eyes.