Make the filing at the beginning of the year: But how long do you have to keep bills?

Tidying up, getting rid of contaminated sites, removing stacks of paper – erasing at the beginning of the year can be a wonderfully liberating feeling. But many do not trust the piles and folders of old papers and documents, because they are uncertain whether and for which documents exactly it retention periods.

Here is a quick overview of the most common documents, which helps you to make the filing

Here is a quick overview of the most common documents, which helps you to make the filing

  • Wait for warranty obligations in invoices and receipts: Receipts and receipts of items that you buy, you can usually dispose of the end of the warranty (colloquially also called “warranty period”): So you can evidence usually 24 months after the purchase of waste paper give.

But there are also some exceptions where you should keep records. For example:

  • Keep medical bills for the purpose of claiming damages:
    If you are privately insured or have paid your own benefits, you will get the medical bills home. In this case you should keep the corresponding documents longer. Claims for damages can be asserted for up to 30 years in the case of errors by the doctor.
  • Purchase receipts of valuable items are required in the case of insurance: the evidence of the pearl necklace or the expensive wristwatch, with all valuable items you should keep documents beyond the warranty period to prove in the event of theft, what was stolen and how valuable it was.
  • Car repair invoices as proof of maintenance: You should also keep workshop invoices longer – preferably until you sell the car. This is how you can prove the maintenance.
  • Recommended retention periods for pension information – forever: never give away pension information and other documents that have something to do with your pension entitlements! At least until you reach retirement age you should keep them in a safe folder!
  • Keep insurance documents as long as the insurance is up and running. These documents quickly fill many folders and are often kept for a long time. As a rule, you can clear out a lot if you systematically destroy all insurance documents that have expired. Because then they are usually no longer needed.
  • Keep phone bills or utility bills for at least a while: For these documents, it is sufficient if you keep these 3 years, longer retention periods are usually not necessary.

Tip: Use your PC as an archive for the documents from which you can not separate


Do you have receipts, letters or documents that you are not sure you can put in the paper? Or you have difficulties separating from some papers? You can store these documents and invoices digitally, so you make room and still have the assurance that the documents are always available:

  • Take a picture with your phone from the paper or scan it. Then save the file securely to an archive folder on the PC, a CD-ROM, or secure online storage services. So you gain space and create air at home – but still have access to the old documents, if they should eventually become important again.

Important: Give your archive files unique names so you can find them again. Because archive folders on the PC easily grow very quickly and have the tendency to become confusing.

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