Natural disasters happen all the time. You see them daily on the news. Everything from forest fires to hurricanes to flash flooding to tornadoes can leave you in awe at what Mother Nature is capable of.
Anything can happen at any time, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible in advance. This includes organizing and protecting your important documents. You want to be able to access your information in a timely manner and not stress about lost documentation. Material things are, of course, replaceable, but replacing your Social Security card or birth certificate can be a little more challenging.
Here are a few documents you should keep safe:
Social Security cards: Keep these locked up. You don’t want to carry your card around with you. This exposes you to identity theft and replacing a new card can be an extremely long process.
Birth certificates: Everyone in your family should have a birth certificate. Scan multiple copies and place originals in a safety deposit box or in a safe at home.
Passport: Make a copy of your passport and keep it with you when on vacation. If you misplace the original, you want to have a copy to show. When you’re not vacationing, keep the original in a safe at home.
Insurance policy information: In case of a disaster you want easy access to your policy and coverage information. Scan a copy to your computer and keep a copy with the rest of your documents at home.
Will: Your attorney should have a copy of this document but you want to have your own copies as well. Keep one at home in a safe and one in your safety deposit box.
A few other documents you may also want to file are investment statements, mortgage and deed information, home improvement receipts, receipts and warranties on major purchases, and tax returns. If you have ever spent hours looking for one document, having this information at your fingertips will save you time, energy, and frustration.
You should make several copies of these documents. You may also want a digital version as well. But if you’re one who likes to clutter up your computer’s desktop with documents, you may want to rethink your computer habits – your desktop is a prime place for identity theft. Consider using a secure cloud service such a Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive. There are two major benefits to using a cloud service: immediate backups and revision history. Revision history updates any changes made to the file automatically. There are also other ways you can protect your files. Do a little research and take some time to protect your most important documents.
Once you’ve made all the appropriate copies of your documents, place them in plastic folders before putting them in storage. This will add extra protection to your documents. There are plenty of waterproof and fireproof cases and safes. Search for a container that best fits your needs.
Next, pick a spot in the house to store your documents. The basement might not be the ideal location since it could be prone to flooding. Choose a safe spot in your house that’s easily accessible. In case of an emergency, you’ll want to grab your safety box on your way out the door.
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Organizing your important documents will help eliminate stress and allow you to take quick action in case of a tragedy. The more prepared you are the easier it will be to recover any damages. By taking time now, you’re saving yourself frustration and potential heartache in the future.