Author Topic: Help...I have a paper problem.  (Read 4837 times)

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #50 on: December 13, 2021, 03:17:39 PM »
Wow, I'm impressed with the progress you've made so far.  It sounds like taking the first step was the most difficult.

Dee18

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #51 on: December 13, 2021, 03:19:54 PM »
Thanks to SimpleCycle for recommending Freedom Filer.  It is way more than I need, but it has really motivated me to go through my files so it was worth it.  As it turns out, I am shredding 75%. The rest is getting beautifully organized. Having had to clean out my parents' files this past spring, when their house of 60 years was sold, I know am am making my daughter's life easier by doing this.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #52 on: December 13, 2021, 04:38:57 PM »
I don't have kids, but was talking to my sibs about not wanting to leave a paper mess for them. One joked that it wouldn't bother them...it would make a nice bonfire.

I appreciate all of the encouraging words and the constructive criticism. This thread is helping to hold me accountable. I was whining to DH that the progress felt really slow. He smiled and told me I was "exceeding expectations".

thesis

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #53 on: December 14, 2021, 12:54:41 AM »
Yes, congrats on the progress!

As an aside, I've read some powerful and moving blog posts detailing how some people die with tax returns from 40 years ago, which is really sad when you think about it.

Once I really had a system for tax documents down, organizing papers became much easier. I even pushed myself to only keep 7 years electronically. Gasp! This was a really difficult at first, but when you realize how silly it is and take the plunge, you don't regret it.

Honestly, half of the time I think people are just scared of addressing the lack of organization, which is how things add up - it gets to the point you might be afraid you did something wrong by accident. For me, I had to realize that the IRS couldn't give two craps about how accurate my filings were from a part time near minimum wage job 10 years ago. There's just no profit motive going after small fries who otherwise did their due diligence. I think the school system f*cked me up a bit, as to this day I feel bad if I don't remember what I read today in history books, like my subconscious is still afraid there's going to be a pop quiz and I'm going to be proved an idiot. Paperwork is slightly different, but I wonder if the effect is similar.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #54 on: December 14, 2021, 06:25:52 AM »
From what I've read on the IRS web site, I should keep records on my rental properties to determine basis, depreciation, etc until three years after I no longer have that property (or the properties before that if there's a 1031 exchange involved). Assuming I'm reading that correctly,  I should keep my returns from 2004 (which is when I bought my first rental that I still own). I'm planning to do a 1031 exchange on that property so I will need to keep all of those returns from 2004 until 3 years after I eventually sell the next place.

Am I reading that correctly?

If so, I can probably purge one of my 2 tax return boxes (or both boxes if I do the tedious job of scanning everything 2004 and newer.)

thesis

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #55 on: December 14, 2021, 08:26:31 AM »
That makes sense. Important tracking documents like that probably make a difference. I might have seen something about businesses wanting to keep tax documents a little bit longer, too, but I didn't need to know for myself :) Several people on these forums own investment properties, so they could weigh in on the specifics there.

For what it's worth, on the subject of tax documents, one thing I do is save electronic versions of all the appropriate forms for each year, using a naming scheme like [Year]_[Document Number]_[Relevant Info], like 2020_W2_MyCompany.pdf, and then going even farther and organizing these into folders named after the year. If you download the document while it's available online, you don't even have to bother scanning a physical copy, but note that some documents are online for less than 3 years. Then you can just back these up on something like a Google or Apple cloud account if you choose.

Systems101

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #56 on: December 14, 2021, 09:29:58 PM »
When is the last time you needed to refer to an old utility bill, or cancelled check or medical receipt, etc.?

On at least 6 different occasions.  I've been amazed about how I've needed to prove past addresses for different things.  I'd recommend to always keep the first and last power bill from an address - you never need to know when you're trying to prove residence.

Also, always keep the cover pages and enough pages to indicate agreement and signature dates of a divorce agreement if you have children.  As a child of divorced parents, I've needed THAT info ... 3 times if my memory serves correctly.

A question you might ask yourself is ďWhatís the worst that could happen if I get rid of something I later need?Ē My guess is itís nothing too catastrophic.

While not catastrophic, being able to get access to the documents I list above (which are a trivial set of things to scan), it has reduced a LOT of headache and lost assets.

iluvzbeach

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #57 on: December 14, 2021, 09:39:35 PM »
When is the last time you needed to refer to an old utility bill, or cancelled check or medical receipt, etc.?

On at least 6 different occasions.  I've been amazed about how I've needed to prove past addresses for different things.  I'd recommend to always keep the first and last power bill from an address - you never need to know when you're trying to prove residence.

Also, always keep the cover pages and enough pages to indicate agreement and signature dates of a divorce agreement if you have children.  As a child of divorced parents, I've needed THAT info ... 3 times if my memory serves correctly.

A question you might ask yourself is ďWhatís the worst that could happen if I get rid of something I later need?Ē My guess is itís nothing too catastrophic.

While not catastrophic, being able to get access to the documents I list above (which are a trivial set of things to scan), it has reduced a LOT of headache and lost assets.

Weíre 100% in agreement on keeping a divorce decree. Iíd absolutely recommend that, along with marriage license, birth & death certificates. Iíve never needed to ďproveĒ an old address and canít imagine keeping any old utility bills for such purposes. Iíve moved 50+ times in my life and needing to prove an old address has never come up. Now, my ability to remember an old house # or street name when doing those out of wallet credit check questions is an entirely different matter. ;)

Edit: My husbandís first wife passed away and we, of course, have all documents on file related to her death, including her birth & death certs, their marriage license and other pertinent paperwork associated with settling her financial affairs. Sheís been gone almost 20 years and weíll keep that paperwork indefinitely.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 09:43:07 PM by iluvzbeach »

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #58 on: December 16, 2021, 04:50:21 PM »
I only have 2 large file boxes and one drawer, so Iím pretty good paper-wise, but I canít bring myself to throw out old tax returns. I have them from the 90ís, when I first started working. Not because I think Iíll ever need them (though I did refer to them when I got divorced), but because itís a kind of financial memory bank. I guess Iím willing to leave them in the closet, or drag them with me.

My brother and I had to hire people to help get rid of the construction-debris-container-full quantity of files my dad left behindÖ It actually made it much harder to figure out all his assets - he still probably owns bits and pieces of things we donít know about.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #59 on: January 06, 2022, 11:03:59 AM »
Quick update. I was slowed down by a week of continuing education zoom classes and then a week of goofing off for the holidays.

I still have 10 boxes of personal paper to go through, but I have recycled ALL of the business paper that didn't need to be shredded.

There are 17 boxes of business related paper pulled aside for the next community shred events (to save hundreds of dollars in shredding fees). That will leave 7 client paperwork boxes that will be shredded as they "age out".

Still a lot to do...but it's getting easier to part with.

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #60 on: January 06, 2022, 11:13:50 AM »
yay progress! (and yay that it's getting easier as you go through.) Nice work!

blurkraken22

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #61 on: January 06, 2022, 11:20:20 AM »
Quick update. I was slowed down by a week of continuing education zoom classes and then a week of goofing off for the holidays.

I still have 10 boxes of personal paper to go through, but I have recycled ALL of the business paper that didn't need to be shredded.

There are 17 boxes of business related paper pulled aside for the next community shred events (to save hundreds of dollars in shredding fees). That will leave 7 client paperwork boxes that will be shredded as they "age out".

Still a lot to do...but it's getting easier to part with.

I have the same problem with wanting to keep all sorts of paper. I used to even scan the tags when I bought clothes. When I moved out of the country a few years back, I went on a huge scanning mission. I literally spent days in front of the scanner, scanning all my notes (and exams, and homework, and handouts) from university. At some point, I found some things I could throw away without scanning (manuals for products I don't own anymore, old bank statements). But I still compulsively scan most of the paper that enters my life. I mostly don't even both filing it anymore. I just have a folder with the date stuff was scanned. I do occasionally look for stuff in those scans too ...very occasionally.

Just wanted to say hello because I think we might be long lost siblings. :D
« Last Edit: January 06, 2022, 11:22:09 AM by blurkraken22 »

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #62 on: January 15, 2022, 11:24:33 AM »
"I've given myself until mid January to get to the end of phase 1...."

Well mid January didn't quite work out...but I should be done in less than a week. DH has jumped in and helped a lot. I took CrustyBadger's advice and created a couple of "history" files on the computer. I now have all my past addresses in one place...and a list of my past jobs.

It's been an interesting trip down memory lane, and I feel happy/relieved to have gotten rid of so much. DH calculated that we've tossed at least 1000 lbs of paper.  I can get to the important stuff instantly, and I should able to keep it under control going forward.

Thanks for all of the advice...it has been super helpful.



SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #63 on: January 15, 2022, 11:29:58 AM »
That's massive progress. Good work - and don't stop now!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #64 on: January 15, 2022, 12:35:29 PM »

draco44

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #65 on: January 15, 2022, 01:54:23 PM »
Posting mostly to follow. This is a weakness of mine too and I see in the OP's experience a potential future me.

For me I think some of the background factors include insecurity about the powers of my memory, family history of multiple relatives with document-heavy interests/professions (I mean, the genealogist alone...), Luddite tendencies, and being comforted by a physical record of things I've done in life.

Best of luck to the OP and maybe in sharing your story you''ll help others too.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #66 on: January 15, 2022, 05:33:16 PM »
My memory used to be great...but not as good now. In this paper purging process, I found two statements from 1990 for two IRAs totaling $15k. I have zero recollection of what happened to those accounts. Did I roll them over into another account? Did I cash them out and pay penalties? Did they end up as unclaimed property?

I wish I had never come across those statements because I now feel compelled to solve the mystery!

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #67 on: January 15, 2022, 08:09:14 PM »
could be the hidden best reason to do all that work. Maybe you'll find an unexpected $15k!

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #68 on: January 15, 2022, 08:48:09 PM »
I'm thinking the opposite. If I'd purged the statements when I (most likely) rolled over the accounts, I wouldn't be wasting time 30 years later trying to find money that probably doesn't exist.

I also spent 2 days trying to remember living at an address that I couldn't remember at all. Then it hit me...it wasn't an apartment  - it was a mailbox rental/forwarding service that we used when we lived on a boat for a few years.

Keeping paper that should have been tossed decades ago has sent me on quite a few detours during this process.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2022, 07:19:40 AM by Omy »

Dicey

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #69 on: January 16, 2022, 01:14:25 AM »
I think I need this thread.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2022, 01:01:12 PM »
I should have this first phase finished up tomorrow. I also found a place 30 minutes from my house that shreds for FREE! That will be huge for the several boxes of very old client paperwork that I need to get rid of (I was not looking forward to shredding all of that with my relatively small shredder).

We're down to 2 file drawers for me (one for business, one for investments), 1 file drawer for DH, and 2 file drawers for joint (one for household and one for our rentals).

Our files could be pared down further, but I'm super happy with our progress.

I had one file that had random junk from credit cards that I'd opened but not used in years. That got me thinking that we should check annualcreditreport.com to run our free credit report to see what accounts we currently had open. It was great because we could see which ones we needed to close, and I was able to get rid of a bunch more paper.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #71 on: February 05, 2022, 07:55:14 AM »
Now that I've tackled the bulk of my paper problem,  I've been digging deeper to purge a lot of my basement storage. I have several boxes of nostalgia (junk) that need to go...including a box of old math and physics college textbooks that I've been lugging around for decades.

What do you do with textbooks? Toss, recycle, sell, giveaway? Is there a market for these? I hate tossing books, but I can't see myself ever opening them again.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2022, 10:42:44 AM by Omy »

reeshau

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #72 on: February 05, 2022, 09:26:52 AM »
What do you do with textbooks? Toss, recycle, sell, giveaway? Is there a market for these? I hate tossing books, but I can't see myself ever opening them again.

There isn't much of a market if they aren't still current editions.  But I gave every one of my old college textbooks away on my own cleanup to homeschool kids.  We offered them up through a Buy Nothing group, and they went in a flash!  I was amazed how fast.

Omy

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Re: Help...I have a paper problem.
« Reply #73 on: February 05, 2022, 10:43:52 AM »
That sounds like a better alternative than tossing or recycling...thanks!