Have you ever opened a drawer at home and thought, "How did it get so cluttered? Do I really need all these documents?" The answer, in most cases, is no! Keep reading to find out when and how to get rid of your documents.
Discard as soon as a new statement arrives:
- Monthly or quarterly investment statements
- Personal insurance policies (life, health and accident, etc.) that renew annually.
Keep until a specific time or event, then discard:
- Credit card receipts: Can be thrown away once you reconcile them with your monthly statement, unless they are needed for a warranty or tax justification. In this case, file the receipts with the product manual until the warranty expires or with your tax papers.
- Bank withdrawal or deposit statements: Discard after checking your monthly statement.
- Bank and credit card statements: Keep 7 years if you need them to support your taxes, otherwise one year.
- Annual investment statements: Keep until investments are sold + 7 years. File them with your tax papers.
- Pay stubs: You can dispose of them after you reconcile your T-4 form and pay your taxes.
- Bills and papers for your daily amenities - Electricity, water, gas, sewer, etc. : Keep for 3 years.
- Tax notices, statements and supporting documents: Keep for 7 years.
To be preserved preciously until the end of time:
• Birth and death certificates.
• Social insurance cards.
• Pension plan documents.
• Identification cards and passports.
• Marriage certificates.
• Business licenses and registration numbers.
• Wills and powers of attorney
• Property titles (homes and vehicles)
• Deeds of sale and mortgage or other loan documents
For Business Owners
Of course, your business records are critically important. So it's a good idea to be extra vigilant about record retention. Your annual financial statements should be kept forever, your insurance policies for four years after the expiration date, and bank statements for seven years.
This advice is intended as a guide. If you are not sure what to keep and what to throw away, you can contact the issuer of the document (e.g. the Government of Canada, your bank or financial institution, etc.) for clarification. Better to be safe than sorry!