14 August 2013

7 Things You Don't Need to Keep

If your home office is sinking under paper it's time for a purge. There are some things you need to keep, either for five or seven years or forever. And then there are the things you keep because it's just too difficult to sort through the paper piles and shred them.

Here are  things you don't need to keep:

1. Pay stubs. Keep your year-end pay stub to compare with your Group Certificate for tax purposes. Dump all the others after you've checked them for accuracy on pay day.

2. Old insurance policies. No need to keep them if they've expired.

3. Fuel receipts. Unless you claim exact expenses for running a car for tax purposes, you don't need to keep every single fuel receipt. If you do claim fuel as a business expense there are four different methods of claiming (check them here http://calculators.ato.gov.au/scripts/axos/help/car1.htm), your accountant or tax agent will be able to advise the best method for you. None of the methods require you to keep fuel receipts.

4. Quarterly investment statements. If you're a long-term investor you don't need to keep every statement. Keep the current one and shred it when the next one comes in, after you've checked the details carefully. Then keep the annual statements; they contain all the information you need.

5. Magazines and newspapers. Don't save the entire magazine for a single article you may need. Cheapskater Geoff clips the travel articles he wants to keep from his favourite mag, clips the pages together and stores then in an expanding file. They're easy for him to find when he wants to research a trip and they don't take up a lot of space. Platinum Cheapskater Heather scans her favourite recipes and craft patterns and stores them on a portable hard drive just for them. They both get to keep the articles they like without the clutter.

6. Photos. The best tip I've ever had when it comes to photos is to cull, cull, and then cull some more. These days with digital photos it is so easy to keep thousands on our computers, taking up space and cluttering up our hard drives. Each time you download your photos go through them and be ruthless. Delete the ones that are not up to scratch, are duplicates, out of focus, chopped off etc. Digital photos are fantastic, but they can create just as much clutter in our lives as old-fashioned printed photos.

7. Medical bills. Once you've paid the bill and received your refunds most healthy people don't need to keep every single medical receipt because they are unlikely to meet the threshold for medical expenses. If you do want to keep them, cull them at the end of each year.


  1. Just to add to this - as far as medical statements go I did make it over the threshold this year thanks to my wisdom teeth and second child but if you have claimed expenses either through Medicare or your private health fund you can ask them for a tax statement which they will provide so you can complete your tax meaning you don't need all those fiddly receipts.


  2. In regards to digital photos taking up computer space, I store them in the cloud eg, facebook, flickr etc. This frees up your digital space and also is safer. If you computer dies you could loose all your files. Store them in the cloud, it's safer.

    1. Hmm. The jury is still out on just how safe it is to store anything, let alone anything of vital importance or needing privacy, in the cloud.

      Sounds well and good from the spin but time will tell just how secure and reliable the "cloud" is.

      I am old fashioned and I am not convinced.

  3. I was always under the impression that you should keep your car and health insurance details for several years so that you can prove you have been continuously insured.

    1. Keep the details by all means, but you don't need to keep the whole policy. If you really feel the need to do so, scan and store digitally.


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