Record Retention Guidelines

desk

Does your desk look like this? A lot of the time I feel like mine does! A lot of my problem is that I don’t know how long to keep records. I know that there are guidelines out there, but do you really follow them? Here’s what I generally do for record retention:

Utility Bills: I shred as soon as I pay the bill if I receive a paper bill. I used to hold onto the bills but then I realized that I had proof of payment once it posted to my checking account. If there ever was a discrepancy, I could provide the bank statement as proof.

Bank statements: Even though I am a pretty self proclaimed “greenie”, I still receive paper bank statements on our main checking account. I know that if I ever needed a bank statement and I didn’t have it, I can get it (usually it costs $5). I’ve been keeping bank statements for 7 years. This is one of the things I’d like to shred. It’s a lot of papers to keep!

Investment Account (ROTH IRA) statements: Both Mr. Money and I have small Roth IRAs that we receive monthly statements on. These are about 4 pages each. I honestly don’t know how long we should keep these. I’ve just been hanging onto them each month.

Insurance Policies: When I switched car and homeowners insurance a few months ago, I shredded our old insurance policy because it was no longer valid. I just kept the new policies and all the paperwork that came with it.

Tax Returns:
I’ve kept these for all the years I’ve filed tax returns. I guess I’m a little paranoid. I figure these are probably the most important!

How do you deal with record retention? What do you keep, and what do you shred?

image from elisasizzle

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Frugal Fixes for Flooring: Laminate Floors

Do you remember the flooring dilemma I had a few months ago? I’m almost embarrassed to say that I am just now getting around to solving the problem. I installed laminate flooring into my hallway and bedroom. And I have to say, at this moment I am confident this was the best decision for us.

Not only do I have the peace of mind of having a complete, normal, beautiful floor in my bedroom, but I have the financial peace of mind knowing I didn’t spend $3737.50.  I love the look of hardwoods, but with the dogs I couldn’t justify spending that much money and watching them get scratched.  Going with laminate flooring eliminates that worry.  It’s going to take a lot (knock on wood) for them to scratch the laminate.  Also, I was able to install it myself, which saved us a ton of money.

With the current housing market the way it is, we’ve decided to love the home we’re tied to, and make improvements that fit our lifestyle.  We can afford the laminate flooring.  We actually bought it at Costco and will get 2% back on our purchase because we have an executive membership. Also, I was able to pay with cash out of our hardwood floor fund, and I’ll tell you, when I pulled out my envelope and paid cash for the flooring, it was amazing. It felt so empowering to know that I had been saving for so long to be able to do this, and I wasn’t having to charge it or use my debit card. What a natural high!

Although I was worried about the resale value of the home after installing laminate, I realized that was a silly concern, as there are more serious problems going on that are making my home value go down right now.  We love our house, and although it’s not where we’d prefer to stay for the rest of our lives, it’s where we need to be right now, and we need to make it into a home we can love.  We’ll just have to keep making frugal renovation decisions and realize that anything’s possible if we put our minds to it.  After all this is said and done, I can look back and realize that sometimes the most frugal decisions are the wisest ones when we are pushed to our limits.  I’m thankful the flooring is done in my bedroom, and now I can relax.  Or paint the living room…

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Dish Soap and Dishwasher Detergent Recipe Needed!

dishsoap.jpgHelpful readers: I am in desperate need of your help. I am looking for a dish soap recipe and dishwasher soap recipe. As you are probably aware, I love making my own cleaning products. I have tried and tried to make my own dish soap and dishwasher detergent, but every time it either doesn’t work, or turns out horrible. I want to “be green” and also be frugal at the same time. Here are a few things I have tried.

Dishwasher detergent recipes:

Mix and use per dishwasher load:
1 Tablespoon Borax
1 Tablespoon Baking soda

and
1 Tablespoon Borax
1 Tablespoon Washing soda

These recipes never seemed to get my dishes clean!

Dish Soap Recipes:

I’ve also tried melting soaps down to a liquid consistency and then using those as dish soap. I have a ton of bars of soap that I wanted to use up. I used Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps, melted them, and then used it as dish soap. The problem is that it doesn’t lather up very well. It works fine for hand soap, but when you put it in the sink to wash dishes it just stinks.

I have tried googling, asking around, and asking my mom, who normally knows how to make everything. No one has a dish soap recipe to make your own dish soap or dishwasher detergent!

Do you make your own dish soap and dishwasher detergent or know of a recipe that I can use?

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