Yes, folks. Three -- count'em -- three 33-gallon trash bags of shredded paper went from my home to a local recycling bin where finally they are doing some good. Given that volume, one might think Granny hasn't a firm grip on the problem of her family's paper clutter. One would be right about that!
This problem has two facets:
- Granny gets way too much mail and is much too paranoid to throw it away.
- GrandDad Fabuloso thinks it's cool to hang onto a copy of every bill he ever paid.
The solution to the first problem is easy:
Any catalog, advertisement, insurance quote offer, etc. that comes to my house -- and likely to all my neighbors, too -- goes straight into a paper bag. When the bag is full, I put it in the car and drop by one of the local recycling bins some time when I'm out and about.
In Purge-athon Part 3 I discussed dealing with general clutter. So, having eliminated all clutter from my laundry room, I have now made the laundry counter the permanent home of my trusty shredder. And I now shred the scary mail the minute it comes into the house.
The solution to the second problem is also easy:
This is just a nice way of saying "throw his useless old stuff out whether he likes it or not." If he protests, just tell him the government said you have to. Seriously, here it is:
The following document retention information is provided by the U.S. government. For more such information, follow this link.
|Document||How Long to Keep It|
|Bank statements||1 year, unless needed to support tax filings|
|Birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, passports, education records, military service records||Forever|
|Credit card records||Until paid, unless needed to support tax filings|
|Home purchase and improvement records||As long as you own the property|
|Household inventory||Forever; update as needed|
|Insurance, car, home, etc.||Until you renew the policy|
|Investment statements||Shred your monthly statements; keep annual statements until you sell the investments|
|Investment certificates||Until you cash or sell the item|
|Loan documents||Until you sell the item the loan was for|
|Real estate deeds||As long as you own the property|
|Receipts for large purchases||Until you sell or discard the item|
|Service contracts and warranties||Until you sell or discard the item|
|Social Security card||Forever|
|Social Security statement||When you get your new statement online, shred the old one|
|Tax records||7 years from the filing date|
|Vehicle titles||Until you sell or dispose of the car|
So now I have a system in place. I file anything I need to keep for more than a year, noting the "keep until" information on the file folder. Anything that is only good for the current year goes into a box to be shredded next year.
As God is my witness, I will never be a paper hoarder again. Not me nor any of mine will ever be paper hoarders again. Fiddle-dee-dee.
Next up: Purge-athon Part 5: Food Clutter