Our personal documents and information are very important to us. We need them to manage our finances, pay bills, file insurance claims and more. While most people know which papers they need to keep, relatively few store them in a manner that will keep them safe in case of an emergency. Simply throwing important papers in a drawer is not enough. If a disaster such as a fire, flood, hurricane or burglary were to occur, they could be lost or destroyed. Here are some things you can do to ensure that your financial and personal information is always available when you need it.
1. Keep the original copies of your documents in a safe place.
If you keep them in your home, invest in a waterproof and fireproof safe that you can bolt to the floor. Then they will be protected in the event of a flood or fire, and it will be difficult for burglars to access them. You could also store them in a safe deposit box at your bank, or better yet, an out-of-town branch of your bank.
2. Make copies of all of your important documents, including insurance policies, passports, wills, deeds, automobile titles and tax records, and write down your social security, bank account and credit card numbers.
Keep a copy in a safe if you keep the original documents in a safe deposit box, or in a safe deposit box if you keep the originals at home.
3. Keep your important computer files safe.
Back up your files regularly onto a flash drive, CD or DVD. It’s also a good idea to include scans of your paper documents on these backups. Store the backups in a safe place, or use an online backup service that will keep your files at a secure location.
4. Take inventory of your belongings, especially the most valuable ones, in photo or video form.
Keep a copy of these records on your computer’s hard drive, and another one on a CD, DVD or flash drive kept in a safe location. It’s also a good idea to keep receipts for expensive items.
5. If possible, send a copy of your important papers to a trusted friend or relative that lives at least several hundred miles away, for safe keeping.
That way, if a natural disaster or some other emergency occurs in your part of the country, you’ll still have access to the papers and account numbers you need.
These measures might seem a little extreme, but they’re necessary to adequately protect your financial and personal information. After all, you can never be too careful with such things. Taking steps to ensure that your documents and files are safe won’t take up much of your time, and it will provide peace of mind in the event of an emergency.
Filed under: Personal Finance