Professional Residential and Business Organizing in Cleveland, Ohio since 2003

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The Weight of All That Paper!!

This past month we have been helping many individuals who are getting ready to move.  Sometimes this is for a move to a larger location, and sometimes it is downsizing.  Whatever the reason, moving always seems like a good way to take a personal inventory and see just what is wanted or needed in the next home.  To do this we go thgough the usual steps of evaluating belongings and trying to decide if they have been recently (ever?) used, and will there be a place for them in the new home.  

What we have recently discovered is there is a lot of paper that is saved, which seems to get moved from place to place.  With moving companies charging by the pound, this paper is often an un-necessary expense.

So we want to use this opportunity to let you know just what you need to keep and for how long.


  • Retain utility and other monthly bills at least until they have been paid, received, and acknowledged as paid
  • If bills are used to document a tax deduction, keep with tax file for seven (7) years;  ten (10) years for business

Receipts/Credit Card Statements

  • Retain until you are sure you will keep an item
  • Receipts for large purchases like furniture, electronics, appliances, jewelry, etc. should be retained for insurance purposes (with warranties is an excellent place)
  • Shred all receipts with credit card numbers on them
  • Credit card statements may retained for the current tax year or be shredded after one month

Income Tax Returns

  • Retain all records for a minimum of three (3) previous tax years
  • Retain returns and documentation of earnings, deductions, etc. for a minimum of seven (7) years; ten(10) years for business
  • Some experts recommend keeping the returns indefinitely

Brokerage Statements

  • Permanently retain records related to investments for proper cost accounting on any purchases and sales
  • Keep only the annual statements if they contain all activity, then dispose of monthly or quarterly statements

Medical Records

  • Retain billing records and Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) until you are sure they have been paid in full by you or the insurance company
  • If you itemize medical expenses as a tax deduction, retain all records for a minimum of seven (7) years
  • If you pay medical expenses through a FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or HSA (Health Savings Account) the receipts should be kept for three (3) years
  • Consider retaining other health reports, test results and treatment history in another location

Warranties & Instruction Manuals

  • Designate a home for manuals and warranties and attach a copy of the sales slip as backup
  • Keep warranties for the life of the product—clean out your files periodically for items you no longer own

For those items that you do need to keep we suggest Banker's Boxes and sorting the information by year or by subject, and often joke that they can be stored in the attic or a crawl space and used as insulation.

We hope this information will help you with lightening the load as you embark on preparing for a move or your general spring cleaning.

Happy Organizing,

JoEllen & Muffy

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