Go for the Jugular to Defeat Paper

Written by Martha on April 9th, 2013

Recently at a client’s house, a 2 ½ hour project stretched to 4 hours. Why? There were several hidden bins of paper she had to deal with.

conservative estimate of time needed to de-clutter paper is 1 hour per foot of piled paper.
We all suffer from excess paperitis (that’s a technical term). So I’d like to skip the question, “How long should I keep…” and go straight for the jugular

How soon can I shred the durn thing?


Let’s go looking for paper to shred! Yeah!

A good shredding program will have both an ongoing, everyday component and periodic components – both monthly and yearly. I like the way Ohio Mobile Shredding breaks this down into six categories:


Shred everyday -

  • Credit card applications. (Better yet opt out to not receive offers!)
  • Any piece of unwanted paper that contains: account numbers, birth dates, drivers’ license numbers, passwords, signatures, social security numbers… anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable having a stranger read.

Note: In this information age, I think shredding anything with your address on it is overkill. If you own a house in Franklin County, Ohio, I can not only find your address on the Auditor’s website, but can tell you what your home’s square footage is and how much you paid for it.


Shred Monthly - Choose a date and schedule an appointment on your calendar.

  • Credit card and debit receipts after reconciling with credit card statement unless needed for tax purposes or warranties.

Shred Yearly - during or just after tax preparation, all statements not needed as tax support documents

  • Monthly bank, retirement and investment account statements after reconciled with year-end statement.
  • Pay stubs after reconciling with annual W-2 statement or 1099 equivalents.

Shred on a Seven-Year or Ten-Year Basis - File with that year’s tax docs and shred at same time

  • Year-end bank statements (if not necessary for tax purposes)
  • Titles, deeds, and surveys to cars and property you haven’t owned in seven years.
  • Tax support documents over 10 years old (not 1040 forms or W-2′s!)

Never Shred - store in a fire/water – proof box

  • Vital personal documents such as marriage, birth, divorce and death certificates
  • Legal documents such as wills, Powers of Attorney
  • Loan and mortgage paid-in-full documentation

Never Shred Until They Expire - remove and replace with current

  • Titles, deeds and surveys to cars and property you currently own (shred 7 years after you get rid of property)
  • Current personal credit history report
  • Benefits package from current employer


As I said, this is an overview of Ohio Mobile’s suggestions just to get your shredding juices flowing. Please print the entire pdf  When to Shred Documents for more detail.
Then go for the jugular, shred often, and don’t let paper defeat your plans for a simple and satisfying life.

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