Ask Francine

How long should one save canceled checks, income tax returns and bank statements? What about papers relating to buying and selling a house? My wife and I have owned seven houses in five states since the mid-1950s, and we bought our present one six years ago. I have a drawerful of real estate papers as well as five years' worth of checks and statements, and I'd like to get rid of useless paper. --Don Stricker, Kansas City, Mo.

Fear and loathing are why people save everything: fear of throwing out the wrong bit of paper and loathing the task of sorting...

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