Today I had reason to try and find evidence of a financial transaction that took place sometime in the 15-20-years-ago range, and I started by laying out all of my paperwork.
My 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax records are in my filing cabinet. I'll probably move 2009 and 2010 into envelopes when I put my 2012 records in my filing cabinet.
And then there's my investment statements—these are all from my American Express Financial Management account, which later became my Ameriprise Financial Management account:
Again, the 2009, 2010, and 2011 statements are currently in my filing cabinet.
And those 2002-2008 investment stacks each contain, among other miscellaneous paperwork, my monthly statements in order by month, of course:
And, finally, I have a few other envelopes with various things in them:
So, I knew that this transaction that I was looking for evidence of, could be identified in my taxes. It was a deduction that I took every year, so I knew when I found the year that I stopped taking it, it would mean that the transaction happened the year before that.
Starting 15 years ago, I went back each year until I saw the deduction appear, which got me to 1993. And inside that year's envelope I found a 1098 form that I think will suffice for what I need. That felt both good and scary at the same time.