Paper Trail

This article is geared toward your college kids coming home for the holidays, but can really apply to anyone.

College is a bit of a hectic time in most people’s lives. It’s the start of the transition to adulthood. You’re changing and what the world requires of you is changing at the same time and it’s confusing. This note is to any college student as the end of the year approaches and it’s about starting to keep records.

If you’re like me in college you’re thinking, what on earth could I have right now that’s worth putting in a file folder or making a directory for on my computer for other than school work?

Well the one thing I’ll tell you is to start building a paper trail of what you’ve done over the years, because, as it turns out, you could be asked to prove it.  I never even thought of having a paper trail that documented my movements in life. That is until the PA Treasury Department asked me this year to provide proof that I was living out of state in 2011. I was a junior in undergraduate college in 2011 and moved 3 times in Ohio that year and let me tell you, that was not a fun exercise.

So, as you stare at the pile of papers and numerous files you’ve accumulated this year here are definitely a few things you can feel confident you should hold on to.

  1. A copy of your driver’s license
    • This may seem ridiculous, but it’s a good idea to take a picture of your driver’s license before you change it or get a new one and update your address when you move. This way you have proof of the change.
  2. Copies of your lease agreements
    • If you live off campus or get a summer apartment, make sure you have a copy of your agreement. Do this even if you’re living with friends because they probably won’t keep a copy.
  3. Copies of any bills that have your name on them and the address
    • Not all bills may be in your name, but grab a copy of one of each kind if you can
  4. Copies of any work agreement or acceptance letters showing your name and the address of your work place.
  5. Copies of any registrations you filled out
    • Things like voter registration and voter ID cards are definitely worth holding onto to show proof of residency.
  6. Copies of the declarations page for your car insurance if you have access to them
    • Keep all vehicle records really, they can come in handy later too.
  7. Copies of your competed tax returns and documents if you had a job

These items may seem pointless now, but could save you a lot of trouble in the future so make sure you don’t toss anything useful and keep these records somewhere you won’t forget about them.

And if you’re parents are handling this type of stuff, get involved with it because if the government comes looking for something they aren’t going to ask your parents for it, they’re going to ask you.