How long should I keep financial paperwork for (part 2)?

Rachelle asked me:
How long do I need to keep shopping receipts? Do I need to keep supermarket dockets even after I have checked them off my credit card bill?

David also wanted to know:
Is it true that I need to keep tax records for 7 years?  I have so much paperwork cluttering up my storage space.

Well, the good news is that you probably don’t need to keep as much as you think, or for a long as you think.

Once you’ve reconcilled your receipts against your credit card or bank statements, it’s pretty safe to recycle them.  Of course, any major purchase (say, anything over $100 like a nice pair of shoes)  you should hang onto for the short term in the event there’s a problem with the item.  3 months should give you a reasonable window.

Receipts for major purchases should be filed with the warranty and if there is one, the instruction manual.

General supermarket, groceries and small purchases can hit the bin almost straight away unless you are using the figures for household or personal budgeting.

Many people think tax documentation needs to be kept for 7 years, but that’s no longer the case.  It’s now 5 years.  whoo hoo!  But be mindful:  you need to keep it for 5 years from the time you’ve filed it, so if you filed your tax for FYE 2007 last year (2009), you’ll need to keep it until 2014.

Want full details? Individuals check out the ATO here, for businesses, here and if you have self managed super, here.

For information about how long to keep general household bills that aren’t needed for tax purposes, check out this previous post.


2 responses to “How long should I keep financial paperwork for (part 2)?

  1. when filing the receipts for major purchases with the warranty and instruction manual…what if the manual is too thick? do you put the manual in a magazine holder and file the warrantyand receipt in a lever arch file separately. I have your book and think the lever arch filing is better than the hanging files so am planning to replace the haging files with the lever arch system

  2. Hi Michelle

    That’s a great question.

    My recommendation would be:

    1. Stick with your plan to transfer the content from all your suspension (hanging) files to folders, except
    2. Warranties, Manuals etc. Agreed that a mag holder is perfect for this.

    The thing you need to do is keep the receipts with the manuals. I’d advise stapling it to the inside front cover of the manual for safe keeping.

    That way, everything’s in the one place and life is easy peasy!

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