I keep all of my files in labeled folders in one of those file box contraptions. If you have a job, you're in school, or you have some credit cards or similar accounts, I recommend getting yourself one of these to keep everything straight. I've had something like this for years now and i put all of my important papers in there. Right now I have folders for my car (title, bill of sale, maintenance records etc...), my wife's car, my auto insurance, my renter's insurance, my school records (transcripts etc...), a big file on my current job info, a smaller file with my previous job info (pay stubs, offer letters etc...), my last seven tax returns, my phone bill, my cable bill, my gas and electric bill, my wife's employment records, my retirement accounts, my bank accounts, and my investment account. Plus a few "misc" folders for random things. I also keep a big fat manilla envelope stuffed with reciepts for higher priced merchandise and manuals/warranty info.
I went to take the box out from under my desk the other day and realized that I could barely lift it. I realized that I needed to take two drastic steps. First, work out more, and second, clean out that box. I haven't been very good at getting rid of old stuff, so I reviewed Bankrate.com's list of what financial records to keep, and how long to keep them. I realized that I could shred a bunch of my old bank statements, phone bills, expired auto insurance policies and things like that, so I fired up one of my favorite machines, the Fellowes PowerShred I bought a few months ago and reviewed here.
By the way, this shredder is still cranking through papers like it's nobody's business. There are few things in life as satisfying as dropping a credit card offer (complete with immitation credit card inside) directly into the shredder without even bothering to open it.
So anyway, I spent a good half hour going through everything, and I ended up filling the entire seven gallon container with the shredded remains of my ageing and useless statements and financial records. February 2004 was a great period in my life, but I will never need my Chase WorkPlace Savings Account statement from back then ever again.
Yes it is good to keep records, but at a certain point it becomes overkill, and your March 2003 phone bill, while interesting, only makes it more difficult to get to the records you really need.
Keep those file boxes clean!