You can hire a professional cleaning company to help you clean the things you are too busy to care for around the house. However, there are just some things you have to clean out personally.  The area of your home office that is designed for your work space can get overwhelmed with kids’ school permission slips to sign and bills from 1999.

There are some papers we have to keep for a certain amount of time, but time is something that we all are short of. Therefore, clearly it’s easy for those papers to stack up.

 If you personally are already on top of this “shred and toss” method, that is awesome. But it’s a good idea to share this method with our teens headed to college and/or older parents living alone.  Times have changed, but identity theft is getting sneakier and more high tech.  Buying a great shredder may be a smart idea for a birthday or early Christmas gift.

It’s can be hard to know what documents you need to shred and what to throw away.  So, let’s take a look…WE CLEAN EVERYTHING BUT THE INSIDE OF YOUR DESK!

What Do I Shred?

Shred anything that is considered a “sensitive document”. In other words, any paper that has your: 

  • name,
  •  address,
  •  any part of your social security number, (even if it only shows the last 4 digits),
  •  anything you have signed, or
  •  anything that has a password (even a temporary one).

If you have a certain place you tend to open your mail, it’s best to position the shredder very close by.  That way you don’t have an excuse to start a pile.  You can just open, read, and shred.

Don’t be fooled by some mail only having certain personal information blocked out.  Identity thieves can piece together a month’s worth of your mail and put together quite a bit.

Also, shred any junk mail that is addressed to you directly.

Credit card offers can be filled out and signed by someone else, just by having a blank application!

Shred those credit card receipts AFTER you see the transaction has gone through smoothly, which is usually about a week.

There is no need to save your bills after you have paid them (even for tax purposes) for over a year.  You can always contact the agency and print out your dates when you need them. Infographic via paperrecycles.org

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What Documents Can I Throw Away Instead of Shred?

You can discard junk mail (not personally addressed to you).  Also, you can pull out the articles of magazines you like, and toss the magazines.  

Also, throw away anything that isn’t directly identifiable to you with your name and address on it.

Keep Your Identity Safe!

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It’s a good idea to purchase a shredder that also shreds credit cards.

Those pesky junk mail credit card offers sometimes come with personal credit cards that, although are fake, can be a method of stealing your identity.

You want a shredder that has a great rating because you need it to last!

My daughter is in charge of shredding my box of “to shred items” and she accidentally shredded a key! It was a key that was supposed to open up a car that was a method to get me to the car dealership. However, it had my name on it and identified that I had bought a car there in years past.  The papers should have been shredded, not so much the key!  But cheers to ATIVA for creating a great paper shredder that got the job done of shredding my personal information, AND THEN SOME!

Happy Shredding, Tossing, and Getting Your Home Office Organized!