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Financial End of Summer Cleaning: What to Keep vs. Throw Away

Were you able to take advantage of the tax extension deadline this year? For those of us who waited until the extended July 15, 2020 deadline, you may just now be thinking about ‘cleaning out the closet.’ You may have been able to get your spring cleaning done in the mean time, but now is a great time to clean your financial life by examining all your saved documents involving your taxes, savings, investments, properties, tuition, healthcare, etc.

Are your physical files disorganized or bursting at the seams?

It may be daunting to think about throwing away financial files, especially as the IRS encourages individuals and business owners to keep important tax records. However, not all files need to be kept in physical form forever. There are plenty of secure online cloud storage options that can help you declutter physical files. I also offer my clients a secure portal to upload and save financial files.
If you’re ready to start the next season financially anew, here are some recommendations on what to toss and what to keep or update.


1) Tax filings from 2016 or older. The IRS allows up to three years to amend taxes; any files beyond that are likely unnecessary unless you’re facing a special tax situation or in an ongoing audit.

2) Unused bank accounts. Do you have multiple checking and savings accounts that aren’t being used? If they aren’t earning you money, consider consolidation for ease of management and organization.

3) Old credit cards. Cut up old credit cards you aren’t using. But don’t cancel them with the issuer; that will erase your history, which could have adverse effects on your credit score.


1) Retirement account contributions. Keep a record of your contributions to your retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 401(b)s, or IRAs. Later, you will need to know which contributions were made with pre or post tax dollars.

2) Investments’ cost basis. Keep an accurate record of your investments’ cost basis (i.e. record of your investments’ purchase prices) from each of your accounts to accurately assess your capital gains and losses when you liquidate them in the future.

3) Beneficiary Information. Make sure your beneficiaries are up-to-date. Double-check insurance policies, wills, power of attorneys, retirement accounts, and any other account where you have a listed beneficiary. It’s always encouraged to list a secondary beneficiary in case the first is not available.


Take advantage of the new season by organizing and updating your financial files. This will help you reset and remain organized throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond.

I'm Helen

Having worked in finance for over a decade, I know what matters most to clients. Here, I share with you what you really need to do to stay on top of your money and retire rich.
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