Your Financial Documents: Get Organized!


Getting organized is about more than just being tidy. If you or your family need to locate important documents, it’ll be much easier if you’ve already got everything in a good spot — and if you’ve pared down the information you’ve stored. Here are some key guidelines for what to keep, and for how long:

Keep things that are hard to get again

This can include things like:

  • Tax returns

  • Contracts and other legal documents

  • Insurance claims

  • Proof of identity

On the other hand, ATM and credit card receipts are only needed until you reconcile your accounts. And it’s relatively easy to get new copies of baking and credit card statements — so you don’t need to take up valuable space to hang onto these.

How long should I keep things?

For some financial records, there are specific timetables. For instance:

One year or less

More than one year


Bank/credit union statements

Tax returns & supporting documents  (the IRS recommends 7 years)

Birth, death, and marriage certificates


Card statements

Mortgage contracts


Adoption records


Utility bills

Property appraisals


Citizenship and military discharge papers


Auto/homeowners’ insurance policies

Annual retirement and investment statements


Social Security card



Receipts for major purchases and home improvements




Where should I keep my documents?

You can store financial and personal documents in multiple ways, depending on the space available to you, and the sensitivity of the information. Choose what’s right for you:

  • File drawers  at home

  • Fire-resistant file cabinets

  • A safe

  • Safe-deposit box

  • Electronic storage — just scan and upload to the cloud via a reputable document storage company. Be sure to keep backup copies in a secure place as well.

Once you’re done

When everything has its spot, create a “document locator” — which is a simple list of where everything is. That way, in the event of an emergency, family members can find things quickly, and you won’t have to rely on your own memory.

Include at-a-glance information like:

  • Your personal information

  • Personal contacts (e.g., attorney, tax preparer, financial advisor)

  • Online accounts with username and passwords

  • List of specific locations of important documents (e.g., home, office, safe)

Cut Down on Paper Piles

When it comes to documents you receive on a regular basis — like investment statements and auto insurance policies — you can get rid of the old one every time you receive your update. Be sure to shred anything containing personal information, especially Social Security numbers, account numbers, and so on.

Need help?
Horizon Bank financial advisers can assist you in making a plan for your most important financial documentation. Contact us today