Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

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LISD
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Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by LISD » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm

I don't trust financial firms to retain old statements, etc (due to first hand experience), so I do it myself. The problem is that the paperwork is building up. I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper. I also want to keep a subset of everything older than that, but not in the form of paper, due to its bulk. Has anyone used microfiche (is it still in use?)? Or do you scan old paperwork - I understand there are scanners designed for this purpose? Or are there other/better options?

My main goal is to retain some of the old documents - but to reduce storage requirements.

Any tips?

stan1
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by stan1 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:04 pm

One thing I would do is look at it from the perspective of your heirs and what would be important to them as the executor of your estate. Make sure insurance policies and recent account statements are easy to find so they don't have to sort through decades of older material to find what's important.

Personally I scan and use cloud storage. I only keep historic documents for my most important accounts (Vanguard and 401K). I do not keep any personal records of my bank statement, credit card statements, or utility bills.

02nz
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by 02nz » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:05 pm

Microfiche?! No, the year is 2019, not 1979. :wink: Scan to PDF and back up to cloud (encrypt if you really concerned about security).

Get a multifunction printer (cheaper than standalone scanner) with an automatic document feeder (ADF). If you have double-sided documents, look for a unit that has an auto-duplexing ADF (ideally single-pass, so that both sides are scanned at the same time).

Whakamole
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by Whakamole » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:57 pm

02nz wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:05 pm
Microfiche?! No, the year is 2019, not 1979. :wink: Scan to PDF and back up to cloud (encrypt if you really concerned about security).
If it's encrypted, and you expect your executor/heirs to be able to access the documents, they'll need a copy of the encryption key.

An alternative is something like fidsafe.

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FIREchief
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by FIREchief » Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:07 pm

LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm
I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper.
What types of documents are you saving? Other than historical tax returns and purchase records for currently held capital assets, I'm just not envisioning a large amount of documents. Do you own a business or have a similar situation.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:46 pm

Get rid of as much as you can. Those who you leave behind will thank you.

When my father passed, I wore out two shredders, and those were used only on "official, but not important" papers he had kept. And, oil changes for his '58 VW Beetle, along with the bill for concrete blocks used to build the home I grew up in, built in 1953, and on and on. What a PITA it was.

I have been going thru my physical paper files, and my digital files, and I hope to make my executor's job easy as pie. I keep far fewer tax returns, and rarely filed taxes that itemized deductions. Fewer supporting documents required.

Our last RE transaction was purchase of our current home in 1989, and mortgage satisfaction was many years ago.

Other than my $100 Fidelity account, our investments have been 100% at Vanguard for decades. I have every household statement in a 3" 3-ring binder.

I used to save every financial account statement I received. But not one time has this info been needed. Not one time. Ever.

No more. Paperless statements only, except for the Vanguard Household year-end statement.

Simplifying our finances helped immensely in reducing statements. Fewer institutions, credit cards, that all led to fewer records generated.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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LISD
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by LISD » Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:44 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:07 pm
LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm
I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper.
What types of documents are you saving?
Saving mainly tax returns and monthly statements for various financial accounts, over 30+ years.

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FIREchief
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by FIREchief » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:09 pm

LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:44 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:07 pm
LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm
I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper.
What types of documents are you saving?
Saving mainly tax returns and monthly statements for various financial accounts, over 30+ years.
IIRC, in the absence of fraud, the IRS requires you to be able to support your returns for up to 3 years from the due date (plus extensions). I generally thin down my paper tax files at that point, keeping copies of only the actual returns, W-2's, 1099s and other such "official" forms. All the receipts, etc. get trashed or shredded. I don't understand what a person would need for financial accounts. Any legit bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, etc. makes a number of years worth of statements available on line and I don't know why I would ever need an older one. We downsized last year, and our five drawer file cabinet was replaced with a single hanging-file tote pan.

However, to answer your original question, I keep all other historical files in either native electronic formats or .pdf files with secure off-site redundant storage. Windows has a "print to .pdf" capability which in most cases eliminates the need for printing and scanning.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

increment
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by increment » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:44 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:09 pm
I don't understand what a person would need for financial accounts. Any legit bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, etc. makes a number of years worth of statements available on line and I don't know why I would ever need an older one.
Schwab and Fidelity have only ten years' worth of statements available online. (Are other legit banks, brokerages, etc., any different?) This could pose a problem if you have been a long-time buy-and-hold investor and need to justify cost basis of assets acquired before 2011 (when brokerages started to keep track for you).

rj49
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by rj49 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:05 pm

Scanners can be complicated, but I went through and scanned all my physical photos, to be more minimalist. Another way to seriously save paper is to download all the product guides you have stored away and rarely use (they're usually on the product website in pdf form).

I'd actually just use a good phone or ipad camera to scan routine documents, since it will be faster and simpler--scanners take forever, and it's a pain to get them lined up and the resulting file not upside down. There are plenty of scanning apps out there. Many people probably already use phone scanning apps to deposit checks through a banking app, so the technology is there for getting high-quality copies. My sister simply takes photos of medication lists and such things, instead of writing them down or making a photocopy. You could also photo scan credit cards and other things, in case they get lost or stolen and you can't remember the numbers.

God,microfiche--my eyes burn just at the memories of scrolling through them in college long ago. Nicholson Baker wrote an article and books about how academic and government libraries destroyed so much history by converting books and periodicals to microfiche, horrible to read and on fragile film that degrades over time, and that require obsolete machines.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:25 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:46 pm
Get rid of as much as you can. Those who you leave behind will thank you.

When my father passed, I wore out two shredders, and those were used only on "official, but not important" papers he had kept. And, oil changes for his '58 VW Beetle, along with the bill for concrete blocks used to build the home I grew up in, built in 1953, and on and on. What a PITA it was.
+1 My MIL was like that but not as organized as your father. She had garbage and trash bags full of papers all around her apartment, including grocery receipts from years ago and the like. There was no organization to anything. Stuff was just thrown into a bag until it was full, and then she'd start another bag. One bathroom half full of them almost to the ceiling. After many, many nights of sorting and throwing I finally got the important stuff down to one box. But at least everything I needed was in there, unlike some who throw out important records. And there were also some interesting but unimportant things too. Such as a newspaper article from the 1940s about her winning a writing contest when she was in high school.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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FIREchief
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by FIREchief » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:08 pm

increment wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:44 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:09 pm
I don't understand what a person would need for financial accounts. Any legit bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, etc. makes a number of years worth of statements available on line and I don't know why I would ever need an older one.
Schwab and Fidelity have only ten years' worth of statements available online. (Are other legit banks, brokerages, etc., any different?) This could pose a problem if you have been a long-time buy-and-hold investor and need to justify cost basis of assets acquired before 2011 (when brokerages started to keep track for you).
Yes, which is why my earlier post included the bolded text below:
Other than historical tax returns and purchase records for currently held capital assets, I'm just not envisioning a large amount of documents.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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LISD
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by LISD » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:33 pm

My "first hand experience" that I mentioned in my original post was related to cost basis. The financial firm claimed they kept all records, 'forever', but when I asked for the records of what I bought a certain stock for, they didn't have it. Oops. I learned not to rely on others in this regard.

I like the idea of a simple camera. I could use my stand-alone camera, take photos of all the documents I want. Then I could just keep all the photos on the SD card that the camera uses. And cut a CD/DVD as a backup. Will take time, but this may be the quickest. Thanks for that thought.

shess
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by shess » Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:41 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:46 pm
Simplifying our finances helped immensely in reducing statements. Fewer institutions, credit cards, that all led to fewer records generated.
This! Once you've got a critical mass of stuff stored, sit down and go through it and figure out what the point of any of it is. Some stuff _does_ have relevance, other stuff does not have relevance, but they might look like the same kind of thing, so don't just save things "Just in case". Once you've trimmed out everything you didn't need to save in the first place, review for things that are adding to your record load, like accounts which overlap each other, and trim them down. Don't leave a big problem to your executor, fix that problem now. Yeah, I know it's no fun. Sorry about that.

shess
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by shess » Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:45 am

LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:33 pm
I like the idea of a simple camera. I could use my stand-alone camera, take photos of all the documents I want. Then I could just keep all the photos on the SD card that the camera uses. And cut a CD/DVD as a backup. Will take time, but this may be the quickest. Thanks for that thought.
I have a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 set to scan to EverNote. It's easy to imagine using a camera as you describe above, but this is like backups, the question isn't "What is possible, here?", the question is "What will I actually do?", and in general the answer is "I'll only do it if it's easy." With something like the ScanSnap, I can just drop sheets into the scanner and press a button and it scans both sides to a PDF in EverNote.

One ripple is that I don't trust EverNote to encrypt in place on their servers, so I land things in a local folder by default, which is backed up to the cloud in encrypted storage I do trust. There are some slight disadvantages to this, because they do some additional processing on documents in their cloud, but so far there's not been anything which actually bothers me, since the OCR is being done before the document lands in EverNote.

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avenger
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by avenger » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:33 am

I keep no paper. I scan all relevant paper as soon as it enters the house, and save copies of online statements.
cheers ... -Mark | "Our life is frittered away with detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Henry David Thoreau | [3 fund portfolio: VTI, VXUS, SV fund (yield 3.01%)]

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:50 am

I download statements and save as PDF, redacting SSN and other sensitive info. I bought a multifunction printer with doc feeder and software that automatically pairs the second side with the first side in a mass document scan, came with the HP printer.

I have scanned in thousands of pages and then shredded them. Have more to go, will get back to it this weekend.

While a Fidelity or Vanguard may have 10 years of statements online, a credit card or utility may have 6 months. I update downloads several times a year.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

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FIREchief
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by FIREchief » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:25 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:50 am
While a Fidelity or Vanguard may have 10 years of statements online, a credit card or utility may have 6 months. I update downloads several times a year.
Why would you ever need an old utility statement?
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

aristotelian
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by aristotelian » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:36 am

I have been overhauling our files. Everything is online in a Google Docs folder shared with my wife. I plan on to forward her the link every 6 months be or so.

fru-gal
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by fru-gal » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:46 am

LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:44 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:07 pm
LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm
I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper.
What types of documents are you saving?
Saving mainly tax returns and monthly statements for various financial accounts, over 30+ years.
There's no way you need tax returns that old except to document IRA stuff. Yes, the IRS says keep IRA documents forever, so I make a feeble attempt to do that (I blew it by not realizing this years ago), but other than that ten years for federal returns. You will hear three years, but they have all sorts of mickey mouse stuff that probably does not apply to 95% of taxpayers that lets them go back further.

Check your state requirements as to how long you need to keep the state tax returns.

For property, you need various records going back to the time you bought the property.

I would never trust cloud storage. You never know when some company is going to go belly up or whatever (my ISP wiped my files in their storage for customers with no notice because they sent notice email to some vestigial email address, good thing I only had a few photos there.)

fru-gal
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by fru-gal » Sun Oct 06, 2019 12:20 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:25 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:50 am
While a Fidelity or Vanguard may have 10 years of statements online, a credit card or utility may have 6 months. I update downloads several times a year.
Why would you ever need an old utility statement?
I used to keep old paper utility statements with the vague idea of tracking my usage and being frugal. Then one day I shredded them. Later I found that both the water utility and gas and electric had online historical data for my account. I still haven't gotten to doing anything with it as it is #237 on my to do list.

If I had some giant bill come in, I would look at the previous bills to see if there was a clue to what was going on before I called the utility company.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:37 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:25 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:50 am
While a Fidelity or Vanguard may have 10 years of statements online, a credit card or utility may have 6 months. I update downloads several times a year.
Why would you ever need an old utility statement?
Why would you ever need an old airplane ticket receipt? Well, years later, there was a big lawsuit, and people who could show they flew X got hundreds of dollars.

Grocery receipts? I used to toss them, then go a nearly $100 check for a specific item that we had purchased many times and there was a class action. I don't save them per se now, but my grocery store has two years of them in PDF format online.

Utility bills? "What was our monthly kWh used before we did ___ to our house? Or, "in our old house, what was a winter heating bill like compared to this house"?

In our case, we switched to a time of day electric plan over a year ago, then added a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) which makes our evening usage (7PM - 2AM) much higher than it ever was. I can easily compare year over year and see the impact of the car, and understand the cost.

As to historic bills that were on paper, I could have spent time analyzing what to keep and what not to keep. But my printer has an ADF, and software that automatically pairs front and back, so it was a matter of sticking an inch in the feeder and letting it go.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Hockey10
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:08 pm

I recently started scanning some documents that I want to keep forever using a ScanSnap scanner. I am storing them on DropBox. The original gets shredded.

obgraham
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by obgraham » Sun Oct 06, 2019 3:43 pm

Like some others here, I keep no paper at all except house deeds and vehicle titles. Started in 2005 and very pleased. Organization is key.
I have some OCD tendencies so I like to check "what that gas bill was like in 2011", so I keep my statements, in pdf. Very little effort required.

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burt
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by burt » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:35 pm

avenger wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:33 am
I keep no paper. I scan all relevant paper as soon as it enters the house, and save copies of online statements.
+1
I keep no paper.
I download all of my online statements.
I love my Brother black&white laser printer/scanner.
I shred everything with a name and address.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:26 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:37 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:25 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:50 am
While a Fidelity or Vanguard may have 10 years of statements online, a credit card or utility may have 6 months. I update downloads several times a year.
Why would you ever need an old utility statement?
Why would you ever need an old airplane ticket receipt? Well, years later, there was a big lawsuit, and people who could show they flew X got hundreds of dollars.

Grocery receipts? I used to toss them, then go a nearly $100 check for a specific item that we had purchased many times and there was a class action. I don't save them per se now, but my grocery store has two years of them in PDF format online.

Utility bills? "What was our monthly kWh used before we did ___ to our house? Or, "in our old house, what was a winter heating bill like compared to this house"?

In our case, we switched to a time of day electric plan over a year ago, then added a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) which makes our evening usage (7PM - 2AM) much higher than it ever was. I can easily compare year over year and see the impact of the car, and understand the cost.

As to historic bills that were on paper, I could have spent time analyzing what to keep and what not to keep. But my printer has an ADF, and software that automatically pairs front and back, so it was a matter of sticking an inch in the feeder and letting it go.
I'm not sure you answered my question "why would you ever NEED an old utility statement?" :confused
Third paragraph.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by BuddyJet » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:20 pm

Our corporate lawyer and accountant broke me of my tendency to save everything forever. Beyond what is required by the IRS or other authorities, you can’t be forced to search or produce in discovery what you don’t have. She really cringed when she heard how many tapes we archived of our email and general server.

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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by senex » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:34 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:30 pm
Still not seeing the "NEED." :confused
Here's an example: if you ever live in NY and move to another state, NY may do a "residency audit."
They demand utility statements up to 3 years old.
I don't know any cases where they demanded statements older than 3 years, but I imagine it is possible.

ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:42 pm

shess wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:45 am
LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:33 pm
I like the idea of a simple camera. I could use my stand-alone camera, take photos of all the documents I want. Then I could just keep all the photos on the SD card that the camera uses. And cut a CD/DVD as a backup. Will take time, but this may be the quickest. Thanks for that thought.
I have a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
A document scanner is the way to go here, and I've used a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 for maybe 8 years or so. I swear by it.

Years ago I went though a massive stack of paperwork, scanned and shredded most everything, and got down to about 1.5 linear feet of hanging files - one drawer's worth.

Nowadays basically all utility, financial institution, bank, mortgage, etc statements AND bills are available online as PDFs with notifications via email, text, or notification in an app. (Health care institutions can be an exception which I find annoying.) Personally I save a copy of everything except the utility bills, though I'll likely start saving those soon, after we move

I still end up using the ScanSnap regularly though mostly because I'm managing the affairs of a parent in ill health. Statements/bills/paperwork is downloaded to PDF or scanned with the ScanSnap, and filed away into an encrypted folder on my desktop computer. That encrypted folder then gets backed up to multiple locations both onsite and to the cloud.

Note that a document scanner is way different than your garden variety flatbed scanner. I can load the ScanSnap with 50+ pages, hit one button, and they all get scanned AND OCR'ed with no other work required. Searching your computer for a name and having it found in a document that you scanned, courtesy of the OCR, is a nice feeling.

Those Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500s aren't cheap. They're about $500. But it's some of the best money I've ever spent. It helps me be extremely organized and productive.

ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:45 pm

BuddyJet wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:20 pm
Our corporate lawyer and accountant broke me of my tendency to save everything forever. Beyond what is required by the IRS or other authorities, you can’t be forced to search or produce in discovery what you don’t have. She really cringed when she heard how many tapes we archived of our email and general server.
That seems like strange advice. If you don't have it the person on the other side of the document or email probably does. Wouldn't you want to know what the other side has on you? Of course I Am Not A Lawyer, so what do I know, but still....

ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:49 pm

There's an angle to this question that I rarely see discussed: what documents do you need to keep the physical original copy of, VS. having a PDF file that's a scan of the original?

Of course for official documents like Passports, signed/notarized Power of Attorney/Will/Medical Directives/etc you need the original. I'm thinking more of things like receipts, statements, things tax related, etc. Is there a guideline on what should be in what format?

shess
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by shess » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:39 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:35 pm
senex wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:34 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:30 pm
Still not seeing the "NEED." :confused
Here's an example: if you ever live in NY and move to another state, NY may do a "residency audit."
They demand utility statements up to 3 years old.
I don't know any cases where they demanded statements older than 3 years, but I imagine it is possible.
"Imagine it is possible" is not sufficient rational for me to keep the history of (my) world in paper, fiche, the cloud, or whatever. Other than IRS requirements (3 years of tax return support, basis of capital assets and unclaimed HSA medical expenses), I'm just not going to keep most of it. Sure, I have a few sentimental items, but the rest is just trash that nobody's heirs want to deal with.

I'll stick (stubbornly) to the position that nobody needs a utility statement older than the last bill, and that's on line already.
Also, you probably could just ask your utility company for a copy. Best case, they just send you a copy, middling case, they charge you a fee (which is probably less than your effort to keep all statements just in case), and worst case, they went out of business and your bureaucrat probably already is having to deal with 300 people in the same boat, so there are alternatives.

In fact, I'm sure they already deal with a ton of people who could easily get statements, and just don't.

senex
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by senex » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:00 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:35 pm
"Imagine it is possible" is not sufficient rational for me to keep the history of (my) world in paper, fiche, the cloud, or whatever.
I generally agree. You asked when one might "NEED an old utility statement" and I provided an example. A taxing authority demanding an old statement is a legitimate example.
shess wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:39 pm
Also, you probably could just ask your utility company for a copy. Best case, they just send you a copy, middling case, they charge you a fee (which is probably less than your effort to keep all statements just in case), and worst case, they went out of business and your bureaucrat probably already is having to deal with 300 people in the same boat, so there are alternatives.
ConEd refuses to provide statements over 2 years old unless you provide an account number, which you probably don't know if you discarded the statements. I don't know how the auditor would treat your failure to produce statements.

Someone asked for an example of when old statements are needed, and I provided one. That's all. Even knowing examples like this, I throw most old statements away. Everyone needs to make his own cost/benefit analysis based on facts, including the fact that old statements are sometimes demanded by govt agencies.

BuddyJet
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by BuddyJet » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:20 pm

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:45 pm
BuddyJet wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:20 pm
Our corporate lawyer and accountant broke me of my tendency to save everything forever. Beyond what is required by the IRS or other authorities, you can’t be forced to search or produce in discovery what you don’t have. She really cringed when she heard how many tapes we archived of our email and general server.
That seems like strange advice. If you don't have it the person on the other side of the document or email probably does. Wouldn't you want to know what the other side has on you? Of course I Am Not A Lawyer, so what do I know, but still....
It was in the context of the cost to search through the multiple archives of servers in response to document requests.

MikeG62
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by MikeG62 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:54 am

LISD wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:52 pm
I don't trust financial firms to retain old statements, etc (due to first hand experience), so I do it myself. The problem is that the paperwork is building up. I'm going to thin it out, and probably keep only the last 7 years as paper. I also want to keep a subset of everything older than that, but not in the form of paper, due to its bulk. Has anyone used microfiche (is it still in use?)? Or do you scan old paperwork - I understand there are scanners designed for this purpose? Or are there other/better options?

My main goal is to retain some of the old documents - but to reduce storage requirements.

Any tips?
I download all financial institution account statements as well as CC statements monthly and those are saved on my computer. I auto backup my computer to a portable drive once each week. I do not receive any of this information by snail mail. Been doing this for several years at least.

I do not have or retain hard copy (paper) of these documents. Same for my tax returns - only electronic copies - although I do keep any hardcopies of the backup/support to the extent it is send via mail. Otherwise I download the backup and keep with my financial records.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

mptfan
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by mptfan » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:42 pm

I download my financial account statements and tax returns and other important documents and save them in my Google Drive. I don't scan anything, I don't even own a scanner, everything is saved electronically as a PDF file download, and every few months or so I do a backup of my Drive folders to my Chromebox. It's a pretty easy system and it doesn't take me that long to keep up with it, and I have access to the documents from any computer with internet access.

I know some people are paranoid about keeping important documents in the cloud, but I have come to accept it and I think it is just as safe from hackers, if not safer, than keeping them on a computer at home due to Google's emphasis on file security. They have a staff of engineers focused on keeping Drive secure from hackers which is much more secure than most people's home computers, and I have a very random password for my Google account that is known only to me and not written down anywhere, and I use two factor authentication, so I think the account is very secure and I sleep well at night.

Take a look at this thread...

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=263259

fru-gal
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by fru-gal » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:49 pm

senex wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:34 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:30 pm
Still not seeing the "NEED." :confused
Here's an example: if you ever live in NY and move to another state, NY may do a "residency audit."
They demand utility statements up to 3 years old.
I don't know any cases where they demanded statements older than 3 years, but I imagine it is possible.
I don't understand what NY is doing, so I looked up residency audit:

https://www.klcpas.com/moved-to-a-new-s ... ncy-audit/

I would be in some sort of trouble, as although I reside in state X, I see doctors and a dentist in state Y. I have credit union accounts in X and Y. Are there still telephone directories? My family has cell phones, so their area codes have no relation to the states they currently live in. Domiciled at birth? How many people live in the state where they were born?

sls239
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by sls239 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:11 pm

I got the scansnap based on the recommendations here previously.

It has been glorious.

It has seen me through the purchase and sale of two houses, one car, and a divorce.

I also scan in a selection of my kid's schoolwork and test scores.

And greeting cards.

And medical records because the school is constantly asking and re-asking for immunization proof.

I'm sure I scan and keep more than I need, but it reduces guilt.

ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:59 pm

BuddyJet wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:20 pm
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:45 pm
BuddyJet wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:20 pm
Our corporate lawyer and accountant broke me of my tendency to save everything forever. Beyond what is required by the IRS or other authorities, you can’t be forced to search or produce in discovery what you don’t have. She really cringed when she heard how many tapes we archived of our email and general server.
That seems like strange advice. If you don't have it the person on the other side of the document or email probably does. Wouldn't you want to know what the other side has on you? Of course I Am Not A Lawyer, so what do I know, but still....
It was in the context of the cost to search through the multiple archives of servers in response to document requests.
That’s important context because while that may be important for a business it’s not valid for individuals.

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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:57 pm

A removed a number of off-topic posts and replies in a contentious debate on the need for retaining documents from NY state. The discussion was derailed. As a reminder, see: General Etiquette
We expect this forum to be a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions and where debates and discussions are conducted in civil tones.

...At all times we must conduct ourselves in a respectful manner to other posters. Attacks on individuals, insults, name calling, trolling, baiting or other attempts to sow dissension are not acceptable.
Please stay on-topic, which is about document storage format.

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (documents).
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BIGal
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by BIGal » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:53 pm

ScanSnap iX500 is, without a doubt, the absolute best way to go. Then get yourself a good cross-cut shredder and your filing days will be over.

bampf
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by bampf » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:14 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:46 pm
Get rid of as much as you can. Those who you leave behind will thank you.

When my father passed, I wore out two shredders, and those were used only on "official, but not important" papers he had kept. And, oil changes for his '58 VW Beetle, along with the bill for concrete blocks used to build the home I grew up in, built in 1953, and on and on. What a PITA it was.

I have been going thru my physical paper files, and my digital files, and I hope to make my executor's job easy as pie. I keep far fewer tax returns, and rarely filed taxes that itemized deductions. Fewer supporting documents required.

Our last RE transaction was purchase of our current home in 1989, and mortgage satisfaction was many years ago.

Other than my $100 Fidelity account, our investments have been 100% at Vanguard for decades. I have every household statement in a 3" 3-ring binder.

I used to save every financial account statement I received. But not one time has this info been needed. Not one time. Ever.

No more. Paperless statements only, except for the Vanguard Household year-end statement.

Simplifying our finances helped immensely in reducing statements. Fewer institutions, credit cards, that all led to fewer records generated.

Broken Man 1999
Couldnt agree more. Sorting through my fathers mess was a nightmare. Oil change receipts, bills for things that were 25 years ago. It was a mess. If you can, avoid. With respect to cloud storage, same thing applies. It took me several days of hard work to sort through my fathers hard drives. I haven't even begun on his CD collections of data and I probably never will.

Agree with B-Man. Not one time have those docs ever been useful past the life cycle. Arguably they were never useful.

michaelingp
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by michaelingp » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:36 am

rj49 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:05 pm
I'd actually just use a good phone or ipad camera to scan routine documents, since it will be faster and simpler--scanners take forever, and it's a pain to get them lined up and the resulting file not upside down.
While I actually like the idea of using a phone as an occasional scanner, it's not up to heavy duty scanning and OCR, like the boxes of tax documents I inherited from my mother. Like others here, I am a huge fan of the ScanSnap ix500. It's incredibly fast, scans both sides in one pass, does OCR almost instantly (OK, I have a fast computer), and it automatically turns pages right side up if you feed them wrong. I keep almost zero paper. Anything that comes in the house immediately goes through the scanner and converted to searchable PDF, then into the recycle bin. Literally takes seconds. If there's any chance of a return or warranty issue on something I buy, that receipt gets scanned as well.

Speaking of the basis of old stocks... I was in that situation once, and went into a tizzy trying to figure out the basis. So I gave the problem to my accountant, who was totally unfazed. Basically, I think he just made up a reasonable number. Now I only have assets that my brokers keep track of the basis. Even if you keep everything on paper, ink fades, houses burn, stuff goes missing. People seem to survive anyway.

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LilyFleur
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Re: Document Storage: what format? (paper, fiche, scan,..?)

Post by LilyFleur » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:01 pm

Whenever I look at my Schwab brokerage account online, i can see the cost basis for my index ETF displayed in bold right beside my current value number.

Should I keep the Schwab statement showing when I purchased the ETF anyway?

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