Clear Your Mind & Your Desk: The Paperwork You Absolutely DON’T Need to Keep

published Apr 12, 2018
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

We all have one. A shoe box, drawer, or filing cabinet at home overflowing with old paperwork—receipts, bills, bank slips, etc.—we have haven’t touched in months. The problem: These abundant piles of paper keep growing, so it’s important to know what kinds of paperwork you actually need to hang on to before you stash it away from sight.

So to help de-clutter your desk (and mind) as tax season comes to a close, we found out which types of paperwork you really don’t need to keep. From ATM receipts to phone bills, here’s the stuff that you should send straight to the paper shredder.

(Image credit: Kath Nash)

How Long Should You Keep Utility and Phone Bills?

Toss them: After a month

Turns out that unless you need them for tax purposes, your monthly utility bills—think: phone, electric, and WiFi—are a waste of space in your junk drawer. Instead of stashing your bills away for longer than a month, only hang on to them until your online account is updated with the most recent payment (or you get the next statement in the mail showing you’re all paid up).

How Long Should You Keep ATM Receipts?

Toss them: After you check your account online

The beauty of online banking is that most of us can see our current bank account totals updated in real time. This means that whenever you pull cash or make a deposit, you don’t really need to hang on to your receipts for proof—just check your online transactions and then toss.

How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Statements?

Toss them: After you’ve checked online and paid them

Kind of like ATM receipts, credit cards statements are basically obsolete once you’ve checked them online for accuracy. So unless they’re your only record of a tax-related transaction, feel free to shred your monthly credit card statements once you’ve paid them.

How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Receipts?

Toss them: After you check your monthly statement

After you compare them to your monthly statement, the receipts from all of your credit card transactions are pretty much worthless. Unless you’ll need them again for a warranty or tax filing, do yourself a favor and recycle these pesky slips as quickly as possible.

How Long Should You Keep Bank Deposit or Withdrawal Slips?

Toss them: After you’ve checked your account

Much like your ATM receipts, bank deposit and withdrawal slips are pointless once you’ve reconciled them with your monthly statement. Make a habit of checking your bank account every week to ensure your deposits and withdrawals show up, and then rid yourself of all your annoying slips.

How Long Should You Keep Paycheck Stubs?

Toss them: After you get your W-2 form

Okay, pay check stubs are a little tricky to figure out what to do with because many of us need them for tax purposes. However, once you receive (and cross-reference) with your annual W-2 form (s), you can consider those paystubs old news and kick them to the curb accordingly.

How Long Should You Keep Credit Cards, Visas, Passports, and ID?

Toss them: As soon as they expire

Expired credit cards and IDs are just that: expired. So unless you’re hoarding them for sentimental purposes, feel free to send all of your horrible old headshots straight to the shredder once they’ve hit their expiration date.