The amount of records and paperwork you should keep is actually more limited than you might think. Here's a list of what to keep and for how long, and what to get rid of!

Keep this paperwork 

  • Tax returns, keep forever  
  • Tax return documentation, for seven years 
  • Contracts, forever  
  • Real estate records, forever  
  • Last pay stub of a job if you leave that job  
  • Last pay stub of the year until you reconcile it with your W-2 
  • All mortgage payment checks (statements), until mortgage is paid off 
  • All student loan payments, until loan is paid off 
  • Car loan payment stubs, until the car is paid off 
  • Cancelled checks, for 7 years  
  • Bank deposit slips, until you reconcile your statements  
  • Bank statements, until a calendar year; store with tax returns if they will be used to prove deductions  
  • Home improvement records, ownership period plus 7 years  
  • Investment records, shred monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold on to annual statements until you sell the investments 

Toss these records

  • Credit card statements that are more than three years old 
  • Past insurance statement 
  • Old utility bills, except the most recent one from your old address if you've moved 
  • Recently paid bills (statements), once you have something saying they've been paid

For additional info, See's list for more advice from the IRS on what to keep for tax filing purposes.

Source: Money Adviser