Financial Health vs. Financial Clutter

Well spring is officially here so I’m cleaning, purging and organizing.  ‘Tis the season, right?

I’m preparing to move, yay!

I’m finalizing my taxes, ugh!

And I just checked a long time goal off my list; I’ve saved six months worth of income and put it all into a savings account, yay!

For the past couple years I have worked hard to become financially healthy.  I think our financial health is just as important as our physical health.  I’m a big believer that all areas of our lives are interconnected.  How we manage our money can directly reflect how we take care of ourselves.

I believe money, relationships and food can emotionally connect.  If someone continues to struggle with overeating, binging, and trying to control their will power around food, my question is, “what is going on with their money and, or their relationships?”

For example, if a certain relationship isn’t “feeding” someone they might unconsciously eat more in an attempt to fill that relational void.

Money has the same parallels.  When people feel anxious and scared because they can’t pay for basic living expenses they are more likely to overeat.  Feeling physically “heavy” and weighed down gives an unconscious feeling of padding and safety; the same way a “padded” bank account might make someone feel safe.

I’m NOT saying money equals protection or happiness.  But I am saying when basic financial obligations (paying monthly bills and debt) are not cared for, the psyche will reach for something to bring temporary calm, comfort, and unconscious albeit inappropriate protection.

Food can be an emotional comfort for a lot of people.  There are more serotonin receptors in the lining of the intestines then there are in the brain.  If anxiety and fear are consuming someones life, serotonin can become depleted.  Sugar and refined carbohydrates can mimic a false serotonin “calm” for about 30 minutes.

Last February I posted my Top 10 Money Tips for financial health. I wrote about my automated saving preference, the importance of annually checking your FICO score (I just downloaded mine last week), freezing your credit for identity theft protection and of course my favorite financial books.

As I sit in the middle of my living room surrounded by paper, folders and financial statements from the past year I look to  Suze Orman’s Financial Clutter:  What To Keep And What To Get Rid Of. I printed this guide off Suze’s website in 2001 and I’ve used it ever since.  As I purge and organize today I thought I would share Suze’s list with you as well.

What to keep for one month:

ATM PRINTOUTS – When you balance your checkbook each month throw out the ATM receipts.

What to keep for 1 year:

PAYCHECK STUBS – You can get rid of once you have compared them to your W2 and annual social security statement.

UTILITY BILLS – You can throw out after one year, unless you are using these as a deduction like a home office, then you need to keep them for 3 years after you’ve filed that tax return.

CANCELED CHECKS – Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years.

CREDIT CARD RECEIPTS – Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years.

BANK STATEMENTS – Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years.

QUARTERLY INVESTMENT STATMENTS – Hold on to until you get your annual statement.

What to keep for 3 years:

INCOME TAX RETURNS – Keep in mind that you can be audited by the IRS for no reason up to three years after you filed a tax return.  If you omit 25% of your gross income that goes up 6 years and if you don’t file a tax return at all, there is no statute of limitations.


RECORDS OF SELLING A HOUSE – Documentation for Capital Gains Tax.

RECORDS OF SELLING STOCK – Documentation for Capital Gains Tax.

RECEIPTS, CANCELED CHECKS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS THAT SUPPORT INCOME OR A DEDUCTION ON YOUR TAX RETURN – Keep 3 years from the date the return was filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid — whichever is later.

ANNUAL INVESTMENT STATEMENT – Hold onto 3 years after your investment.

What to keep for 7 years:


What to hold while active:







PROPERTY TAX RECORDS DISPUTED BILLS – Keep the bill until the dispute is resolved.

HOME IMPROVEMENT RECORDS – Hold for at least 3 years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it’s sold.

Keep until warranty expires or you can no longer return or exchange:

SALES RECEIPTS – Unless needed for tax purposes and then keep for 3 years.

Keep forever: (These records should be kept in a very safe place, like a safe deposit box)







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  1. Thanks for the list! That’s incredibly useful. I’m really big on keeping things organized in file folders and such.

    I think you’re right about that connection between money, food, and relationships, too. When something in my life seems to be lacking I start overcompensating for it in another part. But you can’t replace one thing by eating more or something. Better to have a balance and figure out what the real issue is and deal with that!

  2. Sagan – Yes, I think the connections are interesting to ponder. Everyone is different, sometimes eating is more about the physical and sometimes it’s more about the emotional, in the end it comes down to individual awareness and honest evaluation.

    Mark – Thanks!

  3. Definitely agree that there is a strong connection. You raise some great points. Congrats on reaching your financial goal. Living abroad we have to file taxes in two countries for last year so our stuff is going straight to an accountant this time around. 🙂

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