I've always kept files of paid bills, such as utilities, insurance, credit cards and taxes. I just kept adding to them, year after year. When a file got too fat, I moved its contents to a box, and starting refilling the file.
Of course, I never had time to go through the boxes of old paid bills. They joined my boxes of bank statements with cancelled checks (remember them?) on the basement floor, where they were soon covered with dust and occasionally sprinkled with water from a leaky pipe. You can imagine how attractive that made them; just one more reason to avoid them, as far as I was concerned.
And then we had to move, after 20 years in that house. We had to move quick, so everything in the basement went into storage (ugh). There it all sat, mildewing away, until we bought our little house and I was finally forced to go through it all, because you can't just pitch boxes of old bills and checks. Your SSN is on them, not to mention lots of other personal info. You have to go through it all, see what few items must be kept, and shred the rest.
So after we got here, I spent days in our hot garage doing so. What fun....not!
This experience forced me to turn over a new leaf. Since then, I wait until we've done our taxes, so that every file from the previous year is easily accessible, and then I move the previous year's files into a box. Not just any box, but the box that just recently held the files from the year before the previous year, until I shredded them.
So, as soon as we've filed our 2013 taxes, I'll shred the 2012 paid bills, leaving the box all ready to hold the 2013 paid bills. Then I get to start filling up fresh new files for 2014.
I suppose it's kind of silly that I get so excited about new files now. But it sure feels good to NOT have years and years of musty, yellowed files weighing on my mind and lurking in my basement!