When it comes to managing financial records, a common question arises: "How long should you keep pay stubs before shredding them?"

When it comes to managing financial records, a common question arises: “How long should you keep pay stubs before shredding them?”

With pay stub retention, we recommend keeping pay stubs for at least a year, until you’ve reconciled them with your annual W-2 form and tax return. However, the duration for retaining other financial documents can vary.

In this article, we’ll delve into the recommended timelines for keeping various financial documents and offer our expert payroll insights here at Check Stub Maker on efficient storage and disposal.

Let’s dive in!

What this article covers:

How Long Should You Keep Financial Documents?

Based on our first-hand experience, you will often keep important documents (financial and personal) anywhere from a year to indefinitely depending on what you use them for.

Table: How Long To Keep Important Documents For

Retention Duration Document Type
1 year or less ATM receipts

bank deposit slips

credit card receipts

utility bills

1 year pay stubs

bank statements

credit card statements

3-7 years tax returns

unpaid debt


Indefinitely birth certificates

death certificates

marriage licenses

divorce decrees

Social Security cards

military discharge papers

Less Than A Year

Through our practical knowledge, ATM and bank deposit slips can be discarded in less than a year after you’ve confirmed the transactions on your monthly statement.

Similarly, utility bills and credit card receipts can be shredded once you’ve checked them against your monthly statement and they aren’t needed for tax purposes.

One Year

When considering how long to retain paystubs and time cards, a one-year retention period is sufficient for pay stubs, particularly ones we make here at Check Stub Maker.

Drawing from our experience, keeping check stubs for a year helps you reconcile your paystubs and time with your annual W-2 and tax returns to accurately report all your income.

Additionally, bank statements and credit card statements should also be kept for a year. The exception to this rule is if they contain tax-related information; in which case, they should be kept longer.

Seven Years Or Longer

Our findings show that you should keep tax returns and any documents supporting deductions for up to three years after filing your taxes. According to the IRS, this timeframe is crucial in case of any audits or questions about your tax returns.

Additionally, the IRS recommends keeping records of any unpaid debt or investments for seven years after settling the account or selling the investment.

What Financial Documents Should You Keep Forever?

Key examples of financial documents to keep forever include your annual tax returns, as they provide a vital historical record of your financial life.

do i need to keep receipts or can i use check stub

Similarly, you should keep major financial records and the following documents related to your identity forever:

  • birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards
  • military discharge papers

It’s crucial to store these documents for potential legal and personal reasons throughout your life.

While the general rule for pay stubs is to keep them for a year, the retention period for other financial documents can vary significantly.

Understanding these guidelines helps ensure that you’re well-prepared for any financial verification, audits, or personal record-keeping needs, which we know a lot about here at Check Stub Maker.

How To Store Financial Documents

There are a number of ways to store important financial documents.

Electronic Storage

In today’s digital age, electronic storage is becoming increasingly popular and also the best place to store pay stubs in particular.

Based on our first hand experience, backing up important documents electronically saves time, space, and ensures their safety in case of physical damage to paper copies.

Additionally, scanning and storing documents on a secure cloud service or an external hard drive is a smart move.

We recommend using strong, unique passwords for any online storage and regularly backing up these digital files. Additionally, you should consider encrypting your electronic records to protect them from cyber threats.

We at Check Stub Makers are firm believers in electronic storage. Our pay stub generator is easy to use, keeping all your sensitive financial information safe so only you have access to it.

monthly statements and pay stubs can be shredded when year-end statements are received

Paper Storage

For paper records, it’s essential to keep them in a safe, dry place.

A locked filing cabinet or a safe deposit box at a bank are excellent options for storing sensitive documents like:

  • tax returns
  • legal contracts
  • insurance policies

We also recommend organizing your documents in a way that makes them easily accessible for review or in case of an emergency. Labeling folders and regularly updating your files can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

How to Dispose of Old Financial Documents

When it comes to disposing of old financial documents in paper form, shredding is the key to protecting your sensitive information.

For your peace of mind, we recommend shredding the following financial documents:

  • receipts
  • credit offers
  • insurance forms
  • physician statements
  • checks
  • bank statements
  • expired credit cards

For documents like physical pay stubs and bank statements, which should be kept for a year, shredding them after this period is a safe practice to prevent identity theft.

Even though shredding is necessary for these documents, we advise you to use a cross-cut shredder for added security against revealing sensitive information in this instance.

Additionally, it’s wise to participate in community shredding events or use a professional shredding service, especially for large volumes of documents, which is more practical and environmentally-friendly.

Going forward, switching to our digital storage solutions for your financial documents is the best option overall.

After trying out this product, our paystub maker helps you create, review, download and store your newly made pay stubs in minutes.

There’s no need to resort to shredding when you have us at Check Stub Maker looking after your digital payroll needs.

how far back do i need to save pay stubs for


In this article, we’ve answered the crucial question: “How long should you keep pay stubs before shredding them?” and discussed the best practices for storing and disposing of other important financial documents.

Remember, proper storage and secure disposal of these financial documents are essential to safeguard your personal information.

As you manage your financial records, consider using our payroll services at Check Stub Maker for a streamlined and efficient experience that leaves less of a carbon footprint behind.

Visit Check Stub Maker today and keep your financial history organized and secure with our trusted paystub generator – it’s a decision you won’t regret!

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