Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

>few documents you need to keep long term

I disagree. While I'm a huge fan of purging, there are many, many cases where you need/want documents.

Theft/fire/casualty: old receipts prove ownership and value.

Maintenance: who worked on the furnace 4 yrs ago?

Warranty: our windows have a 20 year warranty (and we're using it!)

Basis for home improvements: when you sell your home, if you can document improvements, you can raise your basis and lower your capital gains.

Repair: where's the part number & diagram for the faucet that's leaking?

School records for your children.


I would add university notes. I was really clumsy with mine but my gf has all her notes for all the classes from uni. It takes up two large shelves, it's freaking massive. We want to scan it but it's a huge task.

For what it's worth, I scan all of those documents you mentioned. The only originals I have in my fire chest are: the deed to my house (even though I can get a certified copy from the county), birth certificates, immigration paperwork, vehicle title, passports, and irreplaceable documents of sentimental or practical value. Even these are scanned as a backup.

All other items are either delivered electronically, like bills, or scanned and shredded upon arrival, like insurance policies. (Sometimes I take a picture of manual covers or packaging so I can have part and serial numbers.) I keep copies of the files in various encrypted places, including a USB stick that goes with me.

I'm with you on a few of those. For insurance purposes you only need to worry about documenting items that are unusually valuable. School records (e.g. report cards, etc) I don't keep, and have never needed. A major home improvement expense I would probably keep, though capital gains on a primary home sale are generally exempt up to $250,000(?).

But I was really more thinking about everyday utility bills, other statements and invoices -- I just trash all that stuff as soon as it's paid. I have better things to do than organize papers that I will never look at again.

Only a few of your examples require the original paper at hand. Having them scanned and searchable makes your life a lot easier.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact