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Most of us save more paperwork than necessary, and we do it because we think we have to or because 'we've always saved everything'. The following guide can be used to help you determine what papers you should save and which ones you can discard. This is only a guide. When in doubt, always check with your accountant.
Paycheque stubs/direct deposit stubs ~ after checking for accuracy, save only the most recent stub, which may be requested as proof of income or employment

Bank Deposit slips, ATM slips, debit/direct payment receipts ~ save them to verify amounts on your next bank statement and then toss

Bank statements, cancelled cheques ~ save bank statements for three full tax years; you may need them for a tax audit or to prove that you paid a bill if you don't have the receipt, save cancelled cheques for one full year

Receipts ~ save the receipts to verify the amounts on your credit card statement, save merchandise receipts for 30-90 days as proof of purchase should you choose to return the item for a refund or exchange, staple receipts to warranty certificate or product/instruction guide, save automobile repair receipts as proof of payment in the event of a recall, save receipts for furniture and other high-ticket items along with photos of those items and a household inventory list in a safe deposit box or fireproof filing cabinet to document replacement value, toss receipts for items you no longer own

Tax deductible receipts ~ after verifying against your credit card statement, record in your bookkeeping system and then file with other tax records, which you should save for up to three full tax years (after three years you can still be audited, but the government cannot ask for supporting documentation)

Credit Card Statements ~ check to ensure that your last payment was received and verify any new changes, then toss last month's statement and keep only the most recent one. (keep all statements for credit cards that are solely used for deductible expenses)

Utility Bills ~ when the next bill arrives, check to make sure your account was credited for the proper amount and then toss the old bill

Insurance Policies and Bills ~ save insurance policies (life, home, automobile) for the period in which they are in effect, toss cancelled insurance policies and related statements, and save each monthly bill until the next one arrives to check that your account is properly credited.

Tax returns ~ as recommended by accountants, keep your tax returns for 7 years, storing them in a large manila envelope labelled 'TAX RETURN 20XX', filed with previous years' returns in a bankers box

Investment records ~ if investment summaries are cumulative, keep only the most current one, keep savings certificates, stocks, bonds, and other securities in a safe deposit box or fireproof file cabinet.

Office organizing always comes down to the nitty gritty of 'what do I need to save and what is okay to dispose of?' Save this document for easy reference in an email or document folder named 'Organizing Financial Documents'. We don't encourage you to print it; the less paper, the better!

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