Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

(Warning: EXTREMELY boring) to ask you if you throw old bills (phone, utilities, bank) away?

(31 Posts)
ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 08:58:55

And if you do, how long do you leave it to do so? And do you shred them?

I have piles of unwanted paper going back years. Can I shred the lot?

DarlingGrace Sun 09-Feb-14 09:00:00

I never throw anything away relating to payslips or income tax.

I keep utilities for about 18 months

Euphemia Sun 09-Feb-14 09:00:07

All of these things are electronic now, but when last had them I shredded them after a year.

ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 09:02:17

Thank you both. I seriously need some kind of system, and have allocated today to do it. Bleurgh.

MidniteScribbler Sun 09-Feb-14 09:03:09

I scan everything and then shred.

MrsSteptoe Sun 09-Feb-14 09:04:14

Yes. I shred old bills once they are a year old as I can't really see what use they are by then (actually, I'm not sure they're much use after three months). I don't get paper bank statements anyway.

ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 09:04:19

Thanks, Midnite.

Wow, you all sound really organised. I feel alone in my (at best) shambolic "filing system"....

ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 09:05:31

Thank you Mrs Steptoe.

So, does anyone see a reason I shouldn't shred everything (other than payslips, etc.) that's more than 12-18 months old??

MrsSteptoe Sun 09-Feb-14 09:05:41

In our case, necessity is the mother of organisation - very small flat, so we are obliged to have regular paper purges!

Bills 12-24 months. Bank statements and pay slips, 7 years.

solveproblem Sun 09-Feb-14 09:07:00

I keep payslips and letters from HMRC.

I throw away bank statements, utility bills and pretty much everything else straight after reading/paying them.

MrsSteptoe Sun 09-Feb-14 09:07:59

Well, unless it's something that sets off an alarm bell, no, not really... I wouldn't just take bundles and feed it in, I would, I'm afraid, look at every sheet.

Also with payslips, I'm sure someone with more knowledge than me might be able to expand on this, but I'd have thought you could shred payslips provided you have the P60 for the year? (If the P60 is the end-of-year summary of pay and deductions)

MrsSteptoe Sun 09-Feb-14 09:08:40

Sorry, not very clear first line - what I meant was, yes, i'd shred everything, but I would look at every sheet.

ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 09:10:58

Thank you all so much for your help with such a tedious question - this is so useful. smile

Jengnr Sun 09-Feb-14 09:13:43

I throw away everything and shred nothing.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Sun 09-Feb-14 09:17:01

Sign up for paperless billing, all my utilities are like this.

Aelfrith Sun 09-Feb-14 09:17:37

We've kept every bit of paper/bill for 20 years plus, in a big filing cabinet (self employed). Plus crates in the loft of business expenditure and receipts.

We can prove anything to HMRC if required! How much did we spend on water in the third quarter of 1994? Yes I have that information to hand!

<paranoid>

And when we renegotiated our mortgage rate last year it was really helpful, though our financial adviser did say he'd never seen anything like it!

<not helpful to OP at all, slinks away>

Fireytiger Sun 09-Feb-14 09:18:41

I agree with Mrs Steptoe: so long as you have the P60 you don't need to keep payslips. Consider those who do online banking - they won't have a record of the past 7 years. I was like you but had a massive bonfire last summer and reduced everything to the last two years. It is just not necessary.

I also change service providers regularly to keep costs down and once I have final confirmation from them a bill is paid off, I get rid of the lot and keep the final confirmation only.

I find box files also help with household finances: clearly labelled in date order and then put somewhere completely out of the way: loft perhaps? They at the beginning of the new year ( x-mas decorations going back in) take them out and re-jig.

ClockWatchingLady Sun 09-Feb-14 09:24:07

Thank you for the excellent advice. So P60s, HMRC and recent bills will find an organised home, but most other stuff will go. I like the bonfire idea, Firey.

I am going paperless in stages but have a massive backlog (which we don't really have space for). No loft, either. Aelfrith, that sounds impressive and terrifying!

LightastheBreeze Sun 09-Feb-14 09:31:07

I have most stuff online so throw away any paper bank, credit card statements and utilities. The only time you might need them is if you are buying a house or opening a new bank account then I think its from about the last six months.

I keep P60s for ever, payslips from the last year, CTC stuff for about 6-7 years. In fact anything to do with tax for about 6-7 years, just in case.

badbride Sun 09-Feb-14 10:12:30

I went paperless a couple of years ago, and this is what I did:

1) HMRC requires you to keep records going back for 7 years. I couldn't be arsed to file everything neatly, so chucked everything from the previous 7 years into a box. In 7 years' time, I shall have a nice bonfire. In the meantime, in the unlikely event of HMRC/ anyone else needing financial info, I can dig it out.

2) I then signed up to Evernote. This is a cloud-based app that lets you store and tag any info you like and access it from anywhere. You can use it for free, or pay a small annual fee for extra features. It's like having a low-effort filing cabinet in the sky. It rocks.

This gets even better when you team Evernote with a Fuji ScanSnap scanner. This little portable device scans documents (it's a feed-through scanner, not a flatbed) in seconds, can scan double-sided, and best of all, converts your bills/ receipts whatever into searchable pdfs.

This is a godsend for lazy people like me, because I the don't have to go to much trouble to file things. A bill comes in, I feed it through the scanner, it pops straight into Evernote. I can tag (add a label) it with something like "2014" and "water bill" and then forget about it. If I need to find it again, I just search for it using those tag terms. Or search for any words that might appear on the bill.

The paper bill gets chucked into a box marked "2014" as a backup. You can also save and tag your online bills. At the end of each year, I cram all the docs from my scanned docs box into some folders and shove them under the bed to languish for 7 years. Anything more than 7 years old can then go onto aforementioned bonfire (other than 10-year appliance guarantees and vital things!)

If you fancy getting more organised, you can group your documents (known as "notes") into little folders in Evernote.

If you are worried about putting confidential info (eg bank statements etc) into the Cloud, you can just save things locally into Evernote on your PC. Do make sure to make backups, and check that you are satisfied with Evernote's security features, DYOR etc etc.

I could go on, but think that's probably enough for now! grin

Glitterfeet Sun 09-Feb-14 10:34:00

Where possible we click the paperless opinion for accounts. Anything else important we scan and store on our server, then have cloud backup for some of that. If we've brought an expensive item we also scan serial numbers, photo, instruction page for insurance purposes. We've had quite a few bikes stolen!

You can buy large external drives for reasonable prices these days, they are a great solution for backing up documents.
http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/search-keywords/xx_xx_xx_xx_xx/external+drive/xx-criteria.html

A 1 TB disk can store about 250,000 songs so that'll take a fair few scanned images. They're also very easy to use.

specialsubject Sun 09-Feb-14 11:00:18

if it relates to a tax return, it needs to be kept for 7 years. Put all one year's stuff in an envelope file. Put all the files in a plastic crate, store (in attic if you have one). As each year flips round, take out the 8 year old one and destroy.

if it relates to something you have online now, shred or burn. Do NOT bin.

set as much as possible online to reduce what comes in.

big job to get it under control, but then easy. BTW if you know anyone moving house, offer the bags of shredding to them as it is great for packing.

Frusso Sun 09-Feb-14 11:14:08

Currently 3-5 years (in a proper filing cabinet)

Frusso Sun 09-Feb-14 11:15:41

I usually shred, but last time my shredder broke so I had to burn it. much to the annoyance of my neighbours

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now