I’m working on going paperless in terms of data storage. Credit card statements, old letters, various documents, etc. For a year, I figure I should hold onto paper pay stubs until I can match them to W-2. Then, out they go.
I’m looking at drawer after drawer of paper. All of which must go, more or less. ( Downsizing, moving, smaller living space, etc.). I am scanning all papers. 75 dpi per, into PDF format. They’re TINY files and I spend so much time AT my desk, that I can slowly work through all of the hundreds and hundreds of pages, determining the value of real hard copies opposed to electronic images of pages.
Figure I’ll scan all, number sequentially and be done with it. BEFORE shredding, I will back up in 2 places. One will be off-site in a safe deposit box on CD-ROM. Yes, I know CD-ROM is unstable after 5-10 years. I’ll also use a USB Flash Drive but that is magnetic storage and won’t fare as well as a CD-ROM in a safe deposit box. ( magnetically insulated small pouch? Do they exist? Hmm. ) That step will happen after I slowly work through the images. Folders, categories, name of each page. That way, in 5 years, I can quickly find that form that was sent to me in 2006.
The time investment seems to be worthwhile. I’ve no interest or cash in renting a storage locker to pay real hard cash just to hold onto… paper. Seems foolish in the extreme. About 70 % of all of the paper in my cabinets already went to the dump. It was non-sensitive and just old crap. This stuff will be scanned and shredded.
What am I missing in the decision to do this? IRS requires 7 years of papers, I am keeping THAT stuff. However, I don’t NEED every pay stub. Do I? Matching them to W-2 carefully should relieve me of the need to keep 2" of envelopes per year, right? 7 W-2 papers is a very very slim sheaf of forms.
It is fair to say that I’ve not handled a page yet in starting this process that I have looked at since I opened the envelope it came in. That doesn’t mean it is valueless. It just means that the odds that I will look at it again are slim to none.
The slim to none is what makes me want to scan the lot of 'em. Because, one never knows. My time isn’t worth as much as the odd document that becomes VERY important years from now for some bizarre reason that I might not be able to foresee.
Who has done this? What parameters were important to you in processing the information, in deciding what was kept in paper form, etc.