Monday, February 16, 2015

House On a Diet: Let's Shred Paper

It's a snow day here.

While it's tempting to curl up with a good book, a snow day is also a good opportunity to tackle some of those projects that you can never seem to get around to. For the past several days I have been working on reducing the amount of paperwork that is stored in our house.

Sometimes it seems easier just to keep the paper than to figure out what is really needed and what isn't needed. I ran across a box full of bank statements. Since it has been 3 or 4 years since our bank went electronic and stopped printing and mailing bank statements I knew they had been around a while but I wasn't sure how long I needed to keep them.

Not sure what household records you should keep or how long to keep them? Here and here are guidelines that I found helpful. Turns out bank statements only need to be kept 1 year unless they are needed for tax purposes, then it would be 3 years.

Almost 12 years ago I was the executor for my grandmother's estate and before that I was her legal guardian and power of attorney. All of that required keeping careful and detailed records but there was no need to keep them all these years. I have just finished shredding them and have 3 large bags full.

Now I just need to get to those bank statements and I will have successfully downsized our paperwork and I will be ready to work on improving how it is organized and stored. I currently use multiple file boxes and folders but I think that a small 2-drawer file cabinet would be an improvement. It would be much easier to retrieve and put things away and I think it might be a solution to some of the paper that accumulates on the dining room table and sometimes on the buffet or on one or more chairs.

To finish up I just want to share some paper shredding advice. If you have large quantities of paper to shred make sure you shred for just a 5 to 10 minutes at a time so that you don't burn out the motor in your shredder. Most of the small paper shredders are not designed to be used for more than a few minutes at a time. If they overheat they will usually shut down but by that time you have likely burned out the motor. I have learned this the hard way. Twice.

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