I've been attempting to get a better sense of how people implement tickler files. I was at the library in Mayberry for book group on Monday and checked this general organizing paperback out. It is excellent; Rosalie Maggio is a relentlessly cheerful organizer, full of ideas, but succinct.
However, like all organizers, she periodically descends into madness.
On page 164, when she describes the annual purge of the filing system, she says this.
"At that time, you bundle up the credit card receipts, put a rubber band around them, print the year in bright red, and store them with the previous years' receipts. Ditto for the year's medical insurance records, the year's utility bills, and the year's bank account statements. Storing can be as simple as a brown paper bag in the attic or as fancy as colorful bins in a dry place in the garage."
As the publication date is 2009, I'm going to give her a pass on the idea that these things maybe don't _exist_ on paper in your filing system. I do, however, question the idea of getting a single rubber band around a year's worth of credit card receipts. I question the idea of keeping all those credit card receipts for the entire year. And I find it breathtaking to contemplate keeping them, _intentionally_, beyond the end of the year (I feel bad when I do it unintentionally). Worse, however, is that she doesn't actually suggest every throwing them away, as near as I can tell, which suggests that thermostatic record of the lunch you had with three friends last Sunday will still be deteriorating years after it has become completely illegible in a rubber banded paper bag in your attic.
Like entirely too many people, she produces the usual ridiculousness about how long you should keep tax returns: forever -- particularly if you've committed fraud. Because, after all, people who commit tax fraud are the kind of people who keep records forever. I guess we could all worry about the IRS coming after us decades hence for fraud, whether we had committed it or not.
But why would you worry about that? If someone is going to audit your return, it's going to be within 6 years, or the quality of your record keeping is _not_ going to be the primary thing keeping you out of jail. Your ability to find and pay a truly high quality law firm will be determining your future at that point.