General Question

laureth's avatar

What do you do with old bank statements?

Asked by laureth (27199points) January 8th, 2011

I’ve accumulated a pile of old bank statements, credit card statements, and the like. Assuming that there’s no paper shredder, what do folks do with these? During summer grilling season we burn them as tinder, but it’s winter now and I don’t want to save piles of paper for several months. I don’t want to just tear them up to throw in the recycle bin, as usual, because I’ve been assured that this is unsafe.

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20 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

Why don’t you just buy a paper shredder? It’s worth it in the end for your sanity…

And what aspects of tearing and recycling have you been told are unsafe?

gailcalled's avatar

I save for five years, but may toss them sooner since all the info is stored online at the bank.

I burn mine in my woodburning stove, but don’t see why you can’t torch them on a bare patch of cold ground. Make sure that there is no wind and no dry birch forests near-by.

iamthemob's avatar

PS – If you get a scanner and a secure drive, as I do, I just scan them as well as soon as I get them, to stop the pile up before it starts.

Brian1946's avatar

Does your recycling program or a nearby recycling center accept shredded paper?

janbb's avatar

I would just rip them up and put them in the recycling. Make sure account numbers are obliterated.

Seelix's avatar

I used to tear them up and put them in the recycling bin. Why is this any more dangerous than shredding them and putting them in the recycling bin? If someone wants badly enough to piece them together, they will.

I don’t get statements anymore; I do all my banking online.

Coloma's avatar

I either tear them up or, burn them in my outdoor fireplace.

I get both paper and online statements for backup.

Personally I like burning them, gives me an excuse to have an outdoor fire pit party by myself. lol

john65pennington's avatar

About every two weeks, i have a little bonfire burning on my patio. i use a deep bucket(dollar general store for $3). i have a charged hose pipe sitting next to me as i begin to burn each statement, one by one. this is a little time-consuming, but its a surefire way of destroying your personal information. be sure to stir the ashes after the burning. we have been through five shredders and they all seem to be made so cheaply. let the ashes cool overnight and dumped them into your trash can. all gone.

chyna's avatar

I save for five years and then burn them. I’m fortunate enough to live out where I can have a burn pile.

Coloma's avatar


Maybe this is a coverup for some latent pyromanic traits.
I do get off watching things burn. hahaha

Coloma's avatar

Yep, me too!

gailcalled's avatar

The ash makes terrific fertilizer for the flower gardens. Just heave it by fistfuls. Make sure, however, you are facing downwind.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I put them through the paper shredder and add it to the compost pile.

You’re better off putting them in the trash than the recycle, because your recyclables are hand sorted. Shredding or burning are your best bets.

Check to see if your bank branch office offers secured shredding.

beachbum76's avatar

I used to shred them, but that got too time consuming and noisy. I now burn them. I also used to keep them for seven years. I now wonder why I ever did that.

jaytkay's avatar

If I don’t have a shredder handy, I tear papers up and throw them in the recycling over two or three weeks.

In the extremely unlikely case that someone tried to piece them together, they would only have ½ or ⅓ of each page.

JLeslie's avatar

I save for about 5 years and then shred. There is probably a place in your area where you can bring a bunch of stuff to be shredded, as mentioned by someone above, and then you don’t have to worry about removing staples, things like that. It usually is not expensive. It’s good if you only purge everything once every year or two. I get a lot online now, so I don’t have as much to shred, And I have shredder at home.

I also many times just tear up and recycle, sometimes making sure have a document goes into one trash bag, and the other half in next weeks trash. But not with bank statements, those I definitely shred.

Coloma's avatar

Overall, except for taxes, I don’t keep a paper trail.
I read it, check it, toss it/ burn it.
If it’s that big of a deal I can get copies.

I think I said this in a similar question awhile back,..if someone wants to sift through kitty litter, kitchen garbage, and god knows what else…go for it. Knock yourself out! haha

laureth's avatar

Thanks for all the “surefire” (heh!) advice. :) We don’t want to buy a shredder because that’s just one more thing we have to find a place for during the 99.99% of the time it’s not being used. I’m given to understand that things that are torn up, as opposed to shredded, are easier to piece back together.

For what it’s worth, the ashes go into the compost in the summer.

iamthemob's avatar


As a quick note – reassembly has always been a concern of mine. If I wasn’t near a shredder, my method of trying to prevent that was to self-shred (just tear up) with two or three different bins or piles that would go into different bins. These get put out at different times.

A little annoying, but if you’re going through a good amount of old stuff, it really only adds like 10% of effort into the mix.

beachbum76's avatar

And if I cut up a credit card, I cut it in a few pieces and put the pieces in different trash cans. I’m a bit anal about that.

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