SCRAP Step 4 – Bank Statements

My de-cluttering saga continues.  (You can see my other blogs on this theme by clicking on “Clutter” in the TAG CLOUD).

This time I am onto bank paperwork.    It merits special attention because there is so much of it and of course it is highly confidential.   It is also essential to keep it secure at all times. For this reason all the banks mentioned in my blog have had their names jumbled up, encoded and encrypted.

Bank papers always arrive in the post in plain A4 white envelopes, which look like letters from banks.    That’s not exactly secure — Oops!     They usually contain at least 5 pages, only 1 of which has any useful information.     The other four pages are incomprehensible, legalistic jargon and list all the things the bank is not responsible for —- including how they calculate their interest rates.  I think they put two fingers in the air and just think of a number 🙂

We have lots of banks and lots of bank accounts to spread the risk of losing all our disappearing savings in one go if one of our banks goes bust !    The problem with this approach is that we get lots of letters from banks.     In my office each bank has a separate box file and by the end of each year they are full of statements, financial reports and promotional literature — 90% of which I have not read.     Don’t let this mislead any burglar reading this blog into thinking we have loads of money, there is no money to be had —— just paper.

Here s a typical example, from let’s call it — the Worthless Paper Bank :-

  • an opening page with sort codes, which I can’t sort out 😟 ; International account numbers with 16 digits which I will never be able to copy down correctly if I ever need it.   What’s more I did not know I had an international account.   And then the one thing that would be useful to see is a date but —– no date, definitely no date.
  • a second page with all ONE of my transactions last month,  plus on the back a list of disclaimers designed to absolve the bank from any responsibility for anything.
  • the final page is a summary of the fist two pages, just in case I didn’t read it,  plus another copy of the disclaimers.
  • at one time I used to get two copies of all of this, but fortunately the bank ran out of trees and discontinued the extra copy some time ago.

All my other banks have similar variations of the above format but since there is not standardisation, you invariably struggle each time another set of paperwork turns up.  I now have a wall full of bulging box files.     All of this to look after my old age pension.      Seems a bit over the top, don’t you think?

It is all supposed to be kept for 7 years, so the tax man says, which makes storing it even more of a challenge.   The obvious solution is on-line banking, but with my computer skills that is about as secure as putting all my money under the mattress.    One wrong press of a key and I could be bankrupt !

Since this paperwork is all so hyper confidential, what the heck do I do with it ?    I could shred it but that would take days.      I could burn it but that would upset all my neighbours.      I could eat it like James Bond with a secret file, but that doesn’t sound like a very good Christmas dinner.

Has anybody got any good ideas on what to do with it all ?


There will be a copy of Walt Hopkins’ book — “Seven Ways to Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket” — for the best ideas on de-cluttering.

Rain forests have been sacrificed, my office is clogged up, no interest is shown or paid !

I did all this on Christmas Eve and it was an incredibly boring and frustrating couple of hours.      I’m done with bank statements for now.


Merry Christmas!

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12 Responses to SCRAP Step 4 – Bank Statements

  1. Envelopes, more envelopes, all addressed to Dear John?? I like your conundrum for today : White envelopes, not vellum, they are obviously love notes from you friendly bank? Remember the advertisement ‘The man in the cupboard some 15-20 years ago? on TV commercial channels (LLoyds or another Bank that has gone under since the Crash of Banks in 2002/4?).
    I am amazed you cannot remember your 16 digit/character pass word for you international bank account-Swiss account?. I struggles withe various 4 digit pin numbers for the various cards I hold for some of my UK retailers- the majority who offer within the small print Banking services, and those Bailiffs if I miss a payment!!. Gone are the separation of a banking system/retail, and financial services such as insurance (for all those occasions-motor/holidays/mortgage and funeral costs etc.). Remember the friendly local bank branch manager- now it is a machine/computer- unless you are a new customer.
    WE now have big brother dressed up in bankers clothes ( Remember again the advert ‘Your Friendly Bank), and those brown envelopes full of french letters offering to sexually assault one, especially if with an address printed on the back from Belfast/ or postmarked from HMRC, asking one to bend over and take notice that big brother demands for his ounce of flesh. OHHA!! Goodie/ :how wonderful that feeling is.
    As for the seven year itch, has one learnt anything in life???
    Me only that my friends address me and forward letters in brown envelopes: do I feel ‘Goosed’? not yet, at 70-odd I am pleased to get that odd message of ‘belonging feeling’! Do I have a 16 digit password to my bank account ? the answer is yes, MOLLY, and she watches over my solicitous behavior.

    • john graham says:

      One of my early Christmas from my wife Mo was a new garden incinerator. So in the dead of night on New Years Eve I am going to have a ritual burning of my bank statements.

  2. davidwfreeman237 says:

    One thing to remeMber, we are going ‘gossimer’? ;french letters, WITH OUR CURRENCY THOSE NEW £5 notes are so touchy feely1 WHAT DOES ONE THINK???, ARE WE ALL BEING ‘goosed????

  3. It is time for me to send you Dear John gainful information by email, or if you like by a vellum envelope, while you admire those ‘Pearly gates’.
    My eldest daughter and her partner offered and presented me for Christmas a a manual, published by The Haynes Group- Remember those accurate car manuals of all the cars one owned and wished to be up to date with garage linggo, so one was as wise as the mechanic offering you that new for old car, or exchanging many a pound note or two, when coin of the realm and a helpful tip may have solved ones problem with the CAR? ( The AA/RAC man on his motor bike and side car have gone with that courteous salute, now it maybe two fingered salute, if we are not attentive to their suggestions?)
    Well while you de-clutter, and throw the baby out with the bath water, see if you have have a quick gander at this manual-Haynes Explains Pensioners ; Owners Workhsop manual isbn 9781785211058 £6.99p It has only 35 pages a 5 size booklet, but a rather serious look at life in retirement as if we were that old ford/bently/RR or VW or the more vulgar japanese model, with diagrams from a past era, with distributor heads/cylinder head/timing wheels, all that mechanical guismo, I understand from years gone by.
    It depends on your humour and if you have time waiting with your bus pass for the next chara to or passed the ‘Pearly Gates’ just to have tea with St Peter, and he talks about the ‘FUTURE’?? Yours and Mine!!!

    • john graham says:

      Thanks David I did try clicking on this 13 digit number but it did not open sesame? Are you sure it is not the number to your Swiss bank account?
      On second thoughts, if there is only £6.99 in it maybe I won’t bother😄

  4. iglengel says:

    And I was having such a good morning and along comes you reminding us that it is time to get our paperwork in order so we can pay our taxes, clean out old useless papers, and so forth. Oh well, I needed something to either end the year with or begin the New year with. It may as well be that. Who knows, it may even spark some creativity and subsequently enable me to come up with my next post.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great day.

  5. It is Christmas! a time for a few thoughts. John your comment about the banks and paperwork, i reflect back to my school days. Early years a junior school in Leeds, i remember the monday morning register, with the form teacher and the time we were invited to freely join the savings club. This was sponsored by the then ‘Yorkshire Penny Bank’, ans a blue savings book. One was allowed and encouraged to deposit a penny or two-pennies, threepence piece. The habit was the ethos being espoused. A little later as I became older and my grannies, aunts, uncles donated postal orders two and sixpence (halfcrown) or if i was luck five shillings on a birthday, i was directed to the local post office at ‘CROWTREEs and encouraged to open a post office bank savings account (Grey savings book). This stayed with me until the account books became obsolete in the 1980’s???
    Today are offspring and grandchildren are encouraged to open children’s ISA’s. All done on a computer talking to an inert screen, and not a friendly teller, or school teacher,or adult, giving that personal message of encouragement, to be frugal, and look forward to that day of expenditure from the savings accrued.
    Today if I reflect a penny in 1950 was equal to 4 farthings the smallest coin in circulation- today the smallest coin is a penny and the nearest 4 times that is a five penny piece. No where today is there a penny account to which one could just deposit 5p???
    I suspect even the modern Yorkshire Bank requires minimum deposits of at least a £1 sterling??. All this is called progress!!
    We are back to money boxes and money under the mattress are we not????
    What is the ethos? spend spend spend?? I hope not.

    • john graham says:

      You were obviously directed to the wrong bank. If you had gone to the Nat West you would have been given a little ceramic piggy bank. They are antique collectors items these days and are probably earning you more than the bank pays in interest.

      • davidwfreeman237 says:

        I cannot remember the rhyme? which little piggie went to market. 1st or 5th. as grannie would stoke our fingers with loving kindness

    • Hi David, A belated response to your post–I’m catching up on all sorts of things today. Your memory of a savings club at school takes me back. When I was growing up back in the US (I’ve only lived half my life over here) in the early 50s, we had a regular banking day at school–on a Monday, I think. When I was older, I was actually a “teller” with a wee visor and an account book. We put in nickels or dimes that went to our accounts in the local bank. It was called the Society for Savings–which strikes me now as a great name for a society, let alone for a bank! I later banked at Society as an adult (which no doubt was part of their plan!) but the idea of saving was built in to us when we were young. We seem to be missing that commitment on both sides of the ocean these days…

  6. Eurekia!!! the childrens rhyme mummy and grannie taught me?
    Grannie or Mummy would take a hand of mine in hers (Soft and gentle? It is the fairy that does the washing?) lay my little hand on top of hers and begin, from the thumb to the little finger 5 digets!
    1 This little piggy had roast beef
    2 This little piggy had none,
    3 This little piggy went to market
    4 This little piggy stayed at home
    5 This little piggy cried wee-wee-wee!! all the way home
    Then came a loving hug and a very friendly tickle-It was all so wonderful of mummies and grannies love.
    So to answer myself above!!! It was the 3rd. piggy that went to market???? and brought home the bacon.

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