Ask Money

When can I toss the receipts

Chris Farrell Apr 13, 2011

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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.