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How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: August 27, 2008 09:53AM
I'm on a tidying binge. I have storage space, but I'm wondering just how long to keep monthly statements for things like utilities, credit cards, etc. (No, I will not even consider scanning them.) None of them have been used for income tax support documentation, so that's not a consideration. I really can't think of any reason to keep more than a year or two back, with the exception of any credit card statements that might contain listings for purchases eligible for extended warranty. Am I forgetting anything important?
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: space-time
Date: August 27, 2008 10:12AM
for utility bills I keep the original bill (which might have installation charges, extra equipment, etc) and then a few recent bills, as long as there are no changes in service. if there is changes in service, then I keep a bill before and a bill after the change too.

Yes, for credit cards, keep at least a few years back, since you might have some items with extended warranty.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: RgrF
Date: August 27, 2008 10:14AM
For me it's until the next bill comes in. Other than tax substantiation, they serve little purpose and my CPA takes care of that. I never count on warranties so I sleep better at night and spend precious few moments with witless customer service people on the phone.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: August 27, 2008 10:20AM
Thank you. I'm "over keeping", so there are a couple more piles of paper I can shred! And I'll be sure to charge the new shredder that I think is in my immediate future - and keep the statement for a while. smiling smiley
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: dmann
Date: August 27, 2008 10:21AM
Everything I have read said keep only the most recent utility bill unless there is something being disputed. The current bill usually indicates if the account is up to date so if it is, they obviously received your previous payment.

As for CC, I keep them for a year, go through them at tax time to make sure I didn't miss anything important and then shred 'em. If there is a warranty item, I write on the bill how long the warranty will last and store those until the warranty expires.

Good info here:
[www.fool.com]

DM
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: RgrF
Date: August 27, 2008 10:22AM
Shred the shredder receipt and any documents that came with it, you'll feel better almost immediately.

Edit:
Shred the shredder receipt and any documents that came with it, you'll feel free almost immediately.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2008 10:24AM by RgrF.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: Wailer
Date: August 27, 2008 10:31AM
I keep credit card and bank/brokerage statements as pdfs for perpetuity.

I used to scan them (very tedious), but now I can download almost all of them. You never know when you may have to prove "what you paid" to the IRS or insurance. I have rental property and an HSA and both of those require diligent record keeping.

For the stuff that I can't get as a pdf, I'll still scan. Luckily scanning has become easier and faster. I have a doc feeder and I'll just scan all the stuff for 1 year in a very low res pdf file at the end of the year.

I toss utility statements as soon as I pay 'em. I usually note the khW, hcf, therms, etc used in my money management software.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: August 27, 2008 11:10AM
Note to Roger: I have more time than money! smiling smiley The truth is that keeping those receipts and credit card statements seems to serve as some sort of free insurance. I haven't had anything break in almost 10 years, or at least nothing new enough to still have any kind of warranty.

And, Wailer, I have a record of the consumption, too, and all of the serious financial records are kept. So why do I keep the utility bills? Probably because I'm too lazy to walk to the other end of the house to put one piece of paper in the shredder! Besides, shredding parties can be fun and rather cathartic.

OK, this project is done, so it's time to find something else to destroy.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: beerman
Date: August 27, 2008 12:08PM
I throw everything out immediately after I mail the check with the exception of large purchases and significant medical bills.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: Bernie
Date: August 27, 2008 12:53PM
When I prep my taxes, last year gets tossed. Exceptions are car maintenance and stuff that only has value to you. I have the first and last pay stub of almost every every place I have worked.




Staunton, Virginia
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: Rick-o
Date: August 27, 2008 01:31PM
I have about 30 years worth. I keep just about everything and once a year I box it up and put it in storage.

I keep telling myself to go through it all and toss all the old BS in the wood stove. (my favorite place to incinerate really sensitive documents).

I really like how everything seems to be going electronic. No more cancelled checks sent back to me and I converted all my utilities to electronic billing, so no more of their paper bills are delivered to my mailbox. At least my yearly boxes are getting smaller!





“There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well.”

- Walter Reuther
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: dk62
Date: August 27, 2008 04:12PM
When I was buying a house, I asked for past utilities bills. It is an all-electric house, to which I was not used. I am not sure i would have bought it if the previous owners did not have a good sample of last year's bills to demonstrate that the average monthly cost is not too high. So, if you are planning to sell in the near future, consider saving some of the utility bills.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: dmann
Date: August 27, 2008 04:19PM
dk62- in my area, you can call the utility companies directly and get that info. My condo was used as a rental before I bought it so the owner did not pay the utility bills and the tenants had moved out months before I bought.

Just an FYI that might save you keeping some of that dreaded unneeded paperwork. smiling smiley

DM
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: August 27, 2008 05:26PM
Well, all of the usage is recorded in my spreadsheets, too, so that's all maintained on my computer. I'll keep some of this stuff for a while longer, because that's just what my "training" has always said should be done. At least I have good storage.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: Michael
Date: August 27, 2008 08:11PM
I used to save all of it "forever" and then went on a shredding binge about 5 years ago, saving only tax returns and check statements forever and shredding everything else each year when I do taxes. I keep receipts that have warranties associated with them in the paperwork that comes with the item for as long as the warranty, doubled by a credit card, is in force.

Unfortunately, last year we discovered that my wife's school system didn't have about 5 years of her sick time records from the mid 90's. When that happens, the state uses the average sick time used through a career for the years the school system has records of to approximate the missing years for retirement purposes. But, she had used up all her sick time twice early in her career for childbirth/childcare and used very little sick time during those missing years. So, her approximation for the missing years will over represent the actual sick time she used. If we had her December pay stubs for those missing years, the state would accept the sick time used as indicated on the pay stub as accurate and it would boost her retirement pay by a small, but real amount. Anybody else who is going to get a pension that utilizes unused sick time might want to keep those Dec pay stubs, just in case.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: August 27, 2008 08:35PM
> Anybody else who is going to get a pension that utilizes unused sick time might
> want to keep those Dec pay stubs, just in case.

That is one reason I keep my end of year pay stub. The arrangement in our state's system is a lump sum pay out of 20% of the value of the total accumulated hours at the current pay rate. After 20+ years, my balance there is just over 52 weeks. I want proof in case someone tries to shortchange me then.



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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: vicrock
Date: August 27, 2008 09:27PM
Utility bills - only until I pay them online, or in the case of propane when I send the check.

The only bills I archive are credit card bills.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: August 28, 2008 01:49AM
Quote
dmann
dk62- in my area, you can call the utility companies directly and get that info. My condo was used as a rental before I bought it so the owner did not pay the utility bills and the tenants had moved out months before I bought.

Just an FYI that might save you keeping some of that dreaded unneeded paperwork. smiling smiley

DM

I have been unable to get disclosures from the gas company. You certainly can not call and do it by phone.
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Re: How long do you keep billing statements for phone, cable, etc?
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: August 28, 2008 03:51AM
I download PDFs of all my bills (utility, credit card, car payments, et al.) and statements (bank, investment) and archive them electronically. I've used MacInTax for years to do my taxes; since the advent of OS X in 2001, I've been able to save tax returns directly to PDF. I recently scanned my hard copy tax returns (~1987 to 1999), so now my entire tax return history is stored electronically.



It is what it is.
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