This photo of the study desk which I posted yesterday, is the superficial face of what is lurking deeper.
‘Study’ is probably a bit of a misnomer for this room as neither of us are studying anything and haven’t done so for many years. I should really call it the office as it is the office from which we jointly run the business of our lives and our home.
The business of our income and expenditure includes bank statements, tax returns, superannuation information, rates, utilities and various insurance policies. We have a filing cabinet in here.
I have found that simply filing everything is not enough. We need to regularly check and cull what we keep. There is no benefit in keeping bank statements from 20 years ago unless you are planning a museum. My theory is that since tax returns need to be kept for 5 years, it is reasonable to align other financial paperwork by the same criteria.
Each year when the tax is finalised and we receive the paperwork from the accountant, I remove the oldest year and rename the file for the current year so that we can collect any relevant information in one place.
I sorted through the bank statements and found that they dated back to 2004 which means that I had not cleared any out for at least a couple of years. This has now been rectified and I have a pile ready for shredding. I will add bank statements to the list of things for an annual cull at the end of the financial year.
Keeping the paperwork under control seems to require constant vigilance, otherwise it can very easily get out of control. It is a fine line between hoarding everything and retaining what is required by law, such as tax returns.
What documents do you keep and why?