Document dump: what to keep, what to toss

It's tax season. And while you'll be gathering paperwork, you can do a little clean-up, too, since you're already in those files. I've created a timeline for how long you need to keep documents and more important when you can toss them.

The goal is to chuck some of these things as soon as you can. The good news is that now so much of what we do is paperless, so it's easier than ever. But, there are still some guidelines you need to take note of.  

Let's get started by talking about FOREVER FILES. Birth and death certificates. Social security cards. Keep'em. Your marriage license. Your divorce decree. And military discharge papers.

PITCH RECEIPTS MONTHLY. Paperwork that can get tossed quickly are those receipts: ATM, bank deposits, credit card receipts. As soon as they're reconciled with your monthly statement - pitch'em. This is a huge space saver. Remember when we kept these for years?

Ok, most things are kept in a mid-way range. Here are your HANG ONTO IT A MINUTE files. More than a year you'll find loan documents are keepers until they're paid off. Don't dump investment purchase receipts until they're sold. And finally, tax records for at least seven years should be kept. Because, if you don't report all of your earnings, the IRS can collect for six years.

Store what you keep safe. Take pictures. Put them on a thumb drive or a password-protected file.  There are also safety deposit boxes and fireproof boxes you can keep in the house. And what you dump, shred.