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When can I toss the receipts

Question: Although you can retrieve credit card statements online, I still keep hard copies of my statements. How long should I keep these statements in my records? Also, I'm hesitant to go paperless with a credit card account. Is going completely paperless secure? Regina, Charlotte, NC

Answer: Well, you certainly don't want to drown in credit card receipts, ATM statements and credit card bills. Most of these statements and receipts can go into the shredder within a year.

What receipts should you keep longer? Anything credit card statement that is a record of a big-ticket item, something that could end up backing up a homeowner insurance claim or a warranty claim.

It could be jewelry, a bike, or a big screen TV. You also need to keep any credit card receipts or statements attached to your tax return. That information should be kept for at least 7 years. In other words, keep anything that contains valuable information.

But for the rest of the statements, such as the grocery store bill, the restaurant meal, the bottle of wine bought as a gift, it's shreddable once you know that the information is correct. I got rid of a lot of aging credit card receipts from 2010 getting ready for my taxes this year,

By the way, in many cases I think electronic records maybe safer than paper ones. They don't get crumpled, fall out of a folder, or get accidentally tossed away in a spasm of spring cleaning. Bankrate.com has a guide to keeping financial records.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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