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How to Protect Your Important Documents

October 12, 2009

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This is a guest post from Jay Scott over at jinij.com the personal finance for dummies blog.

 Photo Credit: William Hook

 

Wouldn’t you agree it’s easy to forget the simple things in personal finance?

Many of us spend a lot of time keeping our finances in order, making sure we have enough saved for retirement, sacrificing to keep our budget on track and working hard to make a comfortable life for our families.

But sometimes we forget to do the obvious and protect the valuable papers we work so hard to acquire.

Unfortunately, a disaster can happen any time and destroy many of the things we’ve worked hard for.  It can happen to anyone so we should be ready at all times.

It is a real part of life and many families end up in all kinds of legal battles because important papers got burned or washed away.

If you do not already have your records in a safe place you should make it a priority to safeguard them from disaster.

You will have enough on your mind trying to find a safe place for your family after a disaster; knowing your finances are still in good order will give you less to worry about.

It will be much easier to deal with the insurance company if you have copies of your insurance documents.

Here is a list of things you can do to help prevent the loss of important financial records:

Have Copies of important documents:

Fire, flood, theft and just plain mistakes can cause untold damage to your financial records. Having copies in your home and keeping the originals in a safe place can save you from a huge headache.

Make sure you state clearly on the copies that they are copies and not the originals and also note where the originals can be found. It is also recommended when making the copies to do so with the staples intact to preserve validity of the originals.

Protection from natural disasters:

Another precaution is to safeguard the papers you have to keep at home, to protect them from the elements.

A fire retardant safe is a great investment and can be purchased at any office supply store for around $50.

You should keep your important documents such as Insurance cards, Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, tax papers and anything else of importance.

Digitizing and storing:

With today’s technology you can store digital copies of your documents on CDs, thumb drives and other portable digital storage devices.

You can even store not-so important documents on your personal area of Google documents. This is a great way to keep your finances organized and will make it very easy for you to make copies when you need to.

There are even web based personal financial managers such as mint.com that tracks and stores your financial information automatically.

With a little effort we can take some preventive measures to protect ourselves.

It may take some time to get it all done, but compared to the years it might take to get it all back in order, that time is insignificant.

We all hope for the best, but being prepared for the worst can save you time and money after a disaster.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2009 9:37 pm

    Jason, great tips! Thanks for adding to my personal finance to do list. :) I was thinking a safety deposit box at a bank might also be a good option for originals.

    • October 15, 2009 9:52 am

      Good point! Safety deposit box is great for originals. Get that To Do list done! =)

  2. October 15, 2009 12:09 am

    I’ll try mint.com to see if i can digitize my stuff. Good stuff.

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