Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

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POLL: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Yes
40
40%
No
59
60%
 
Total votes: 99

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InvestorNewb
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Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by InvestorNewb » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:08 am

I recently moved to a new apartment and in an effort to reduce clutter I threw out all of my investment statements from my broker.

I still receive a statement every month in the mail and I throw that out too. I find it annoying to keep because the stack gets big and dusty after awhile. In short, is this a bad practice?

I already have electronic statements which I can download from their web site. Suppose the company went bankrupt and I lost access to their web site, would having paper instead of electronic copies be more beneficial to prove my assets with that company? Or does it matter?
Last edited by InvestorNewb on Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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CyberBob
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by CyberBob » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:18 am

A common practice seems to be to keep the monthly statements only long enough to see if they agree with the quarterly statements, and then only keep the quarterlies until the annual statement.

Then just keep the consolidated annual statements (in paper or electronic form -- or both), so that even after years of transactions, your number of statements is relatively small and manageable.

This assumes you still hold the investments. Although I keep annual statements, I don't have the ones from my 1998 E-Trade account anymore since I don't own those securities anymore and closed the account 15 years ago.

One interesting note: Vanguard used to have the option to be paperless except for a mailed annual statement. I no longer see that option available, so it looks like the nudge towards no paper continues.
Last edited by CyberBob on Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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cfs
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by cfs » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:22 am

Negative.

Negative, but I do keep several backup copies of the electronic forms.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by bertilak » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:26 am

I said no, but that is probably wrong as I send all that stuff (yearly summaries at least) to my CPA for taxes then every year he hands it all back in a big envelope and I put the envelope with all the others. So I could probably find investment statements going back into the 1980s. Some of this stuff may have been lost in moves -- not really lost but left in some miscellaneous box somewhere.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by skepticalobserver » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:28 am

Download statements, confirms, 1099B's, etc. to a thumb drive. Paper documents get way out of hand.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by mptfan » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:30 am

InvestorNewb wrote:I already have electronic statements which I can download from their web site. Suppose the company went bankrupt and I lost access to their web site, would having paper instead of electronic copies be more beneficial to prove my assets with that company? Or does it matter?
I don't understand your question. Are you saying that you download and save electronic copies of your statements, or are you saying that you do not download the electronic statement but instead rely on having access to the electronic statements on the company's website?

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InvestorNewb
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by InvestorNewb » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:34 am

mptfan wrote:Are you saying that you download and save electronic copies of your statements, or are you saying that you do not download the electronic statement but instead rely on having access to the electronic statements on the company's website?
I currently do not download and save electronic copies of my statements, but I want to get into the habit of it. I was just stating that I have the option of downloading them from the company's web site.

Edit: Once a year I do export data from my account into MS Excel and send it to my accountant at tax time. But here I am referring to the monthly statements.
Last edited by InvestorNewb on Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ged
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Ged » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:35 am

Yes. I keep paper copies of everything that goes towards my tax returns.

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Aptenodytes
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Aptenodytes » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:43 am

I couldn't vote. I keep them for a year, then shred them. So I both keep and don't keep. I keep scanned copies indefinitely

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by agent13x » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:45 am

I've told Vanguard not to send me paper copies, and I don't download them either. If I want to see them, I can login to their website. I trust that they will be around for a while.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:03 am

I get paper of everything, and I file it away. All except the IRA stuff, which the IRS requires you keep forever, gets shredded on a rolling basis as ten years go by. However, the only stuff I look at and check against my computer records is the end of year tax statements. So why do I keep the paper? General paranoia.

I actually retrieve my information from the websites, and keep it on my laptop via an Excel workbook and numerous other highly organized files. This is backed up as appropriate including going into my safe deposit box periodically.

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Aptenodytes
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Aptenodytes » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:18 am

I avoid paper wherever I can -- e.g. no paper statements from any of my retirement accounts. But my wife really likes getting things on paper, so for the things she's in charge of the paper comes in and gets scanned, curates for a year, then gets shredded.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by JW-Retired » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:25 am

Yep. We faithfully keep a paper copy of the annual statement of all 4 of the investments accounts we have. It's in a couple of binders in the fire safe. We have been doing this since we started investing 40 years ago. Several times it was invaluable for cost basis determinations. Heirs trying to sort things out better be grateful. :P

I could find the fairly recent information on my computer but anyone else would be in trouble. Anyway, I've found the practical half-life of computer data is only about 10 years.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by nisiprius » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:50 am

JW Nearly Retired wrote:Yep. We faithfully keep a paper copy of the annual statement of all 4 of the investments accounts we have. It's in a couple of binders in the fire safe. We have been doing this since we started investing 40 years ago.
With the Vanguard statements, I only save the "year-to-date" statement for the current year, and the end-of-year statement for previous years.
Several times it was invaluable for cost basis determinations.
Only once for me, so far, but I was glad.
Heirs trying to sort things out better be grateful. :P
Those who have gone through the melancholy task of trying to locate a deceased person's assets will appreciate the difficulty. It is not unusual for people who have been punctilious and systematic about organizing their paper to become disorganized in the final years.

The ease with which a financial institution can instantly pull up electronic records from five years ago masks the terrible difficulty they have locating any records from before the last big IT upgrade... before the last merger... before the merger before that. The mergers and acquisitions of the last few decades may be "creative destruction" but when it comes to recordkeeping it is mostly just destruction. I know someone who is convinced that his widowed mother would have lost over $100,000 due her if they hadn't located a former employer's old-time employee who knew what room the cardboard boxes were kept in. The company had been acquired a couple of times, the insurer had been acquired or had changed, the policy number had changed...

To find out whether I'm right or wrong about the extent of the problem, watch the news in the 2020s for stories about states' financial situations getting a boost from an influx of money from unclaimed accounts.
I could find the fairly recent information on my computer but anyone else would be in trouble. Anyway, I've found the practical half-life of computer data is only about 10 years.
JW
Yes, that sounds right. Unless you are spending weeks every year systematically checking all of your old records for media readability, format compatibility, constantly buying new software to translate old formats to new (guess what? MacLinkPlus has been discontinued and will not run under current versions of Mac OS X), and systematically re-copying, you will lose data. It's one thing to open ONE old word-processing file in a new piece of WP software and manually clean up a few problems, it's another to do that five hundred times.

Even if you have a tool to do bulk format conversions, you better try opening and inspecting each of the five hundred converted files, because, guess what? not all of them will have been converted usably. (What, you have Microsoft Word files from 1990 that have equations in them?)

It is now finally official. After years of denial and blaming the victim, it is now acknowledged:How Long Do CDs Last? It Depends, But Definitely Not Forever.
Now, preservationists are worried that a lot of key information stored on CDs — from sound recordings to public records — is going to disappear.... Youket says part of what makes it hard to preserve CDs is that they are not uniform. There were a lot of different standards of manufacturing, depending on the year and the factory. "Everyone always wants to know the answer to the same question, 'How long do CDs last? What's the average age?' " Youket says. But "there is no average, because there is no average disc."
Two problems that have personally bitten me and caused me to lose financial data, none of it important:

1) When I bought a Mac Color Classic computer, it was supposed to be able to read 400K "MFS"-formatted diskettes. It did. I even verified it. Then there was a Mac OS upgrade that no longer included the software support. The drive itself hadn't changed, but the OS software had. NEEDLESS TO SAY, Apple's descriptions of the "up"-grade failed to stress any features that were being lost.

2) I also had a lot of financial data in Multiplan files. Multiplan was actually discontinued, but, no problem, because Excel "opens Multiplan files." Again, at some point, this capability was dropped from Excel, and, again, there was no warning.
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DaftInvestor
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:09 am

I avoid all paper although I am paranoid. I like all my original records thus I download all statements to my computer. My computer is backed up to a network drive. The network drive is also backed up (thus three copies so a single drive failure won't hurt me). Every 3-6 months I back up the network drive to portable drive I put in a safety deposit box (thus if I lose everything at home due to fire or theft - I have the drive at the bank. I have two drives and simply swap them when I visit the bank 2-4 times a year).
And no - I don't trust having a backup in the cloud....
I don't bother with CDs or DVDs - I just use hard drives which are getting cheaper all the time. As long as all is backed up - if you lose one you replace it (with one with even more capacity). Nearly all records are now downloadable as PDFs - now an open standard - I can't imagine PDF readers will disappear in the next 20 years or so since all records are in this format - so I'm not concerned about compatible or a so-called half-life of computer data. These are files that can be moved from place to place - as long as you have a backup your set. If I had any remaining paper copies I needed I'd scan them and save them as well. A set of files on a computer are a lot easier to manage than paper (and those binders I had were stacking up!).
Last edited by DaftInvestor on Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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pennstater2005
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by pennstater2005 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:11 am

I voted no. You may want to edit your title to include (POLL), could generate more responses.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:31 am

Here are the financial records that I keep:

1) Tax returns - all years and any correspondence with the IRS - permanently.
2) Account statements - quarterly - indefinitely for basis calculation.
3) Utility bills and the like - one year
4) Transaction documents - only until the statement comes out.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by MathWizard » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:12 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:Here are the financial records that I keep:

1) Tax returns - all years and any correspondence with the IRS - permanently.
2) Account statements - quarterly - indefinitely for basis calculation.
3) Utility bills and the like - one year
4) Transaction documents - only until the statement comes out.
+1

I'm not sure where I learned this, but I thought this was common practice.
(The advice I learned was 7 years for IRS docs, and if you amend a return, 7 years back
from that, but where the IRS is concerned, I shred nothing.)

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Peculiar_Investor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:14 pm

The wiki contains some ideas as well, check out Record retention.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by tractorguy » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:29 pm

I don't get any paper statements so I don't have to worry about keeping or shredding them. I download activity from Vanguard to my Quicken register weekly so have a weekly check to see if anything unexpected happens. I do not look at the monthly statements from Vanguard because I trust that this is just a different look at the same data that I look at when I download the transactions.

Once a year at tax time, I download the tax forms from Vanguard. At the same time, I download and electronically file (ie put the files in a folder that I can find it in) the year end statements from Vanguard's website. If Vanguard were to change their retention policy or I closed my account, I'd still have the statements on file.

In case anyone asks, I back up my computer files to an on site NAS drive weekly. I haven't yet got paranoid enough to also do off site backups but I'm thinking about it.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by technovelist » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:40 pm

After having read some of the "xxx financial company lost my account" threads here, it seems like it would be playing with fire not to save records, even if only in PDF files that are seriously backed up.

As for me, I keep pretty much everything indefinitely. This has paid off in a couple of cases where I was due a settlement from a class action suit or the like, but only if I could prove my eligibility with documents about 10 years old. I got a couple of hundred dollars in one of those settlements.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Yossarian » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:54 pm

No paper. I download all statements. Everything that was paper-only has been scanned to PDF. I backup weekly to an external USB hard drive, and continuously to CrashPlan and Dropbox.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by mptfan » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:14 pm

I don't save physical paper copies of account statements anymore, I now download them and save them in electronic pdf format and then save them on Google Drive.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by House Blend » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:40 pm

InvestorNewb wrote:I already have electronic statements which I can download from their web site. Suppose the company went bankrupt and I lost access to their web site, would having paper instead of electronic copies be more beneficial to prove my assets with that company? Or does it matter?
I prefer paper for annual statements, but for those who prefer "e", I think it is important that you maintain copies locally, and not rely on the fact that Acme Brokerage keeps them archived for you.

Recall the horror stories about accounts disappearing.

I also recall horror stories here about moving accounts from Brokerage A to Brokerage B, and then discovering that Brokerage A will no longer allow the former customer access to the old e-statements and records. Could make tax time difficult if you have trouble transfering cost basis records to Brokerage B, or if, 3 years later, the IRS decides to dispute the capital gains on a sale you executed at Brokerage A. Gotta hope they treat their *former* customers well.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:51 pm

MathWizard wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Here are the financial records that I keep:

1) Tax returns - all years and any correspondence with the IRS - permanently.
2) Account statements - quarterly - indefinitely for basis calculation.
3) Utility bills and the like - one year
4) Transaction documents - only until the statement comes out.
+1

I'm not sure where I learned this, but I thought this was common practice.
(The advice I learned was 7 years for IRS docs, and if you amend a return, 7 years back
from that, but where the IRS is concerned, I shred nothing.)
My wife was ready to toss our tax returns from 1981-2005 when we were boxing things up. I out the kabosh on that. I needed the old tax returns to determine the tax basis of our Traditional IRAs.

It is also a reminder of how little we made in first five years after college ... since we have been accused by certain relatives of having life "so easy.'

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:26 pm

jlawrence01 wrote: My wife was ready to toss our tax returns from 1981-2005 when we were boxing things up. I out the kabosh on that. I needed the old tax returns to determine the tax basis of our Traditional IRAs.
That should be on your latest 8606.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:28 pm

House Blend wrote: I also recall horror stories here about moving accounts from Brokerage A to Brokerage B, and then discovering that Brokerage A will no longer allow the former customer access to the old e-statements and records.
I had that happen. I think it was Schwab. I closed the account and poof all the data disappeared from the website. I don't recall any place else doing that.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by 123 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:04 am

As the chief investment officer for the household I keep all the paper financial statements. Spouse isn't interested at all. If something happens to me within 30 - 90 days she'll automatically get fresh statements on all the assets and can proceed with necessary actions. Most accounts are basically on auto-pilot, Target Retirement funds, and inherited IRA on automatic RMD, utilities on auto-pay. I reduce the volume of regular paper statements by removing leading and trailing pages that don't contain transaction information. I keep the complete year-end statements for each account. Tax and financial records are by year, shoe-boxed. Credit card billings and utility bills get are held at least 1 year and then shredded the following year.

Do I ever look at the paper statements subsequent to filing? No, hardly ever. I look at things online. The paper trail is there for others to readily know what's going on after I'm gone, they're not interested now.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by scrabbler1 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:25 am

I keep paper copies of the monthly statements and any confirmation receipts until the annual statement comes out.

As for bills, I keep the previous year's bills plus the current year as it builds up. When I get ready to shred the second year back's bills after the current year becomes complete, I go through them to make sure there is no special correspondence or any useful notes I may have written on them.

A few years ago, I went through all of my income tax folders because they had become rather bulky. I did not need to keep the tax booklets and some of the other pamphlets such as guides to understanding the 1099s and other year-end statements from the investment companies. I tore out some of the key pages from the tax booklets such as worksheets and tax rates/tables so that enabled me to get rid of about 2/3 of each folder's contents, saving mainly the draft versions of the tax returns and other supporting documents. I do keep the last 5 years of complete folders before I pare the 6th year back folder down.

After I left my company and had to liquidate its 401k, I got rid of most of the quarterly 401k statements, keeping only the last one and a few others such as the last ones before my former employer switched administrators a few times. That got rid of a lot of paper.

I do keep all of my canceled checks going back to the 1980s although since my bank stopped sending them to me a few years ago, I had to print them out on line. I forgot to do that a few months a few years ago so I have some gaps in there. It was too far back for the bank to still have them on line. I still have the checkbook register along with a spreadsheet of the register so I can trace it back.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by amitb00 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:41 am

No. I keep electronic copies.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:39 am

scrabbler1 wrote: I do keep all of my canceled checks going back to the 1980s although since my bank stopped sending them to me a few years ago, I had to print them out on line. I forgot to do that a few months a few years ago so I have some gaps in there. It was too far back for the bank to still have them on line. I still have the checkbook register along with a spreadsheet of the register so I can trace it back.
Why do you do that? I keep copies of checks for financially important things, like income tax payments and property tax payments, and if I'd spent a bundle on something like getting the roof replaced, I save those too, but why all the other ones?

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:43 am

Those of you who have a) electronic-only financial records, and b) have another person sharing your financial life with you...

...have you done any reality checks to find out whether your partner can find those records? That is, have you actually asked your partner to find them and verified that he or she can?

Does your partner know what folder your Excel or Quicken files are in? Does he or she know whether the right one--the one with the up-to-date list of all of the financial firms that are holding chunks of your money--is the one named master.xlsx or the one named portf-2014-09b-new.xls?

Which folder contains the PDF statements you downloaded from Vanguard and Second Sixth Bank and Demodex Wealth Management?

In the wake of "Heartbleed," have you finished changing all of the passwords on your financial accounts, or is it a work in progress? Every time you've changed one of them, have you provided your partner with an updated list of them all?

Can your partner operate your computer, or have you made any unusual "preference" settings on your personal computer that makes it just a little different from a stock machine? Did you reverse the left and right mouse buttons? Did you change your machine's language to French because you're trying to learn French? Have you set up a "clean" user account for your partner on your machine, did you set it to boot into the screen where you choose an account instead of booting directly into your own account, and are you keeping everything important in a shared folder that is accessible to both accounts?

Have you verified that your partner is able to log on and view your financial websites using his or her own computer? Can he or she get past the "This isn't a recognized computer" screen? In addition to passwords, does he or she know whether you honeymooned in "Niagara Falls" or "niagarafalls?"

Yes, it's tough to know where the safe deposit keys are, whether the statements are in a ring binder or a shoebox, and whether they're chronological, reverse chronological, or jumbled... but it's a different-sized problem.
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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by scrabbler1 » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:58 am

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
scrabbler1 wrote: I do keep all of my canceled checks going back to the 1980s although since my bank stopped sending them to me a few years ago, I had to print them out on line. I forgot to do that a few months a few years ago so I have some gaps in there. It was too far back for the bank to still have them on line. I still have the checkbook register along with a spreadsheet of the register so I can trace it back.
Why do you do that? I keep copies of checks for financially important things, like income tax payments and property tax payments, and if I'd spent a bundle on something like getting the roof replaced, I save those too, but why all the other ones?
They don't take up much space (not even one shoebox even after 30 years), and I'd find it more annoying to go through them all and decide which ones were "important" enough to keep versus discard. I have actually had to view some of those ancient checks from time to time over the years so it has been worthwhile. I'm more annoyed at myself for the gaps in recent years due to not remembering to print out the check images on line every month. Thankfully, I have reduced my checks to all-time lows so I will now have some months where I don't write any.

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Re: Do you keep paper copies of your investment statements?

Post by Lee Saage » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:55 pm

nisiprius wrote:Those of you who have a) electronic-only financial records, and b) have another person sharing your financial life with you...
Why, yes. I have prepared a document titled "Things to Do When I'm Gone" that, among other things, lists every account, logon, password and a recent summary of account balances. In addition it suggests specific actions to take in assuming management of our investments. In part because my much younger, and beautiful, wife has little interest in managing investments, we have an utterly simple portfolio. That helps.
Most of my money went to fast cars, fast living and good wine. The rest I just wasted.

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