Which documents should you keep and for how long?

Nobody wants to be buried in a pile of paperwork. But sometimes, you think a document is important in your life — or will be at some point in the future — and so you hold on to indefinitely.

Turns out that may not be necessary!

The thing is, you never know when you may need a document of some kind in an emergency situation. And unfortunately, not all emergency situations are created equal.

With some situations like extreme weather, you’ll usually have advance notice of a coming storm. That’s why during hurricane season, our article on 29 items to pack in your financial emergency kit and bug-out bag is a popular link.

Yet what do you do if the unthinkable happens and there’s a coordinated financial cyber attack on our nation’s banking industry? There’s no way to get advance notice of that.

You could just wake up one morning and poof! Your money may be gone.

This is far from paranoid speculation; the Wall Street Journal notes the U.S. Treasury Department, among others, has recently issued a steady stream of warnings about a potential major cyber attack that could wipe out your financial records.

Money expert Clark Howard recommends four key steps you should take before this happens.

Chief among them being to turn off electronic statements and switch to paper. That way you always have an updated accounting of your money in the event that bank records are wiped clean by hackers.

Moreover, Clark also says you should take these additional steps right now to protect yourself.

The amount of records and paperwork you should keep is actually more limited than you might think.

Remember, physical copies of documents are great, but storing them in the cloud is acceptable, too. Google Drive, Dropbox or similar services are great for this purpose.

In addition, many people recommend following the 3-2-1 rule when it comes to recordkeeping and paperwork, according to this Reddit thread.

Simply put, this method starts with you having three independent copies of your data. Two should be stored on different types of media — such as in the cloud and on a thumb drive. And finally, one backup copy should be kept offsite, preferably in a safe deposit box.

So without further ado, here’s what to keep and what to toss!

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