Organize Your Records

Admit it. You fear the paper that comes through the mailbox. So do we. Here's what to do with it.

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Stay organized with Ryan Homes

Don't know what to do with all those official-looking documents? Follow these tips.

Stuff to Keep in a Fire Safe Box

There are some documents you just don't want to lose in the event of a fire or flood (we know, bite our tongue, knock on wood, etc.). Get a fire safe box anyway. Amazon offers a wide range of fire safe filing boxes at different price points. Here's what to put in yours:

Upgrading to a Single Family Home?

Congratulations! If you're beginning the process of buying your first home, prepare yourself for a whole bunch of paperwork. Take a gander at our guide to financing so you know what to expect. Searching in the Washington, D.C. area? Check out our single family homes in Maryland. Beautiful.

  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • House deeds
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce papers and legal documents
  • Copies of green cards or visas
  • Wills and living wills

Stuff to File in the Cabinet

You have no real filing system? It's okay. Now you have a good excuse to go shopping at The Container Store (one of our favorite places). They've got the accordion folders of your dreams. Here's what to put in your fancy new system:

  • Tax records and correspondence
  • Retirement account information
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Warranty documents
  • Insurance records (homeowner's, medical, life, disability, and auto insurance)
  • Important health records
  • Pet medical records
  • Cancelled or imaged checks
  • Stock and investment reports

How Long Should You Keep This Stuff?

We're not big proponents of hoarding paper, but there are just some things you want to hold on to for a while. Here, some guidelines:

One Month

  • Bank statements—check for accuracy, then shred 'em.

One Year

  • Hold paycheck stubs and bills until your taxes are filed.

Three to Six Years

  • According to MSN Money, Uncle Sam has three years to do an audit for income you fully report, and six years if you omit more than 25% of the gross income on your return.
      • Keep W-2 forms, cancelled or imaged checks, and any paperwork that supports deductions or claims on your tax returns.

Darn Long Time

These can stay in the basement:

  • Investment records—maintain as long as you own the securities.
  • Property ownership records—hold until you sell.
  • Retirement records—keep until you're golfing full time.

Ryan Homes Tip: If you hate filing (we understand), and you only want to file once a month, keep a large catchall box under your desk. At least everything will be in one place.