Where do you keep your most important documents?
Perhaps, you have a filing cabinet. Or even a shoebox where you put important papers. It doesn’t really matter where you keep them, as long as you have one place you always know to look for them. Could you locate your important papers quickly if you needed to?
Some documents still require paper
I try to go paperless when I can. I try to scan everything. As well, most of my notes are kept electronically. Yet, there are some documents that haven’t made the leap to the digital age and require a hard copy. Legal documents, licenses, and more. Recently, I had to locate the title to a car that has been in the family for 20 years. I wasn’t sure I had ever seen the paper title to this vehicle. Yet, I knew exactly where to find it. Why? Because we keep all of our important hard copy documents in one place. In less than 5 minutes, I had located the title that probably hadn’t been touched or seen in over 10 years. Do you know where your title is right now?
One place for what’s important
You need one place for all of your important paper documents.
These might include:
Titles and Deeds
Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts
Birth certificates and SSN cards
Marriage, divorce, and other certificates
Bonds and other banking items
When you have a central location where all important papers are kept, then you know exactly where to find them when you need them. Sounds simple. Yet, most people do not practice this easy organization tip. You can use a file box or drawer. I prefer a stand-alone container to capture all of those documents. If you want to get fancy you can get a fire safe or something more protective.
5 tips to help
1. All in One Location – Find one location or container to keep all of your most important documents. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It can be a simple box or filing container. As an added tip, choose something that stands out from the clutter. You always want to know where it is. My important papers container is a unique color, so I always notice it.
2. Eliminate the Clutter – Be very selective about what goes in your important papers collection. There are very few documents that truly need to be in there. For example, receipts and other simple documents should be in their own filing cabinet. Think of your important papers as those that are “Top Secret” or non-replaceable. Most people should be able to get by with a single box of important papers.
3. Digitize What You Can – Your important papers box should only be for documents that must be in hard copy. For documents that don’t explicitly need to be paper, scan them to your digital library.
4. Always Return Them – When you do need an important document, make sure that you put it back as soon as you are done with it. Don’t place it on a countertop or other location. Always put it immediately back in your one place.
5. Keep Them Safe – Keep your important papers file in a safe place. It should be separate from your normal every day files. Don’t store it in a conspicuous place where it might be taken with other valuables. For more protection, use a fire safe to protect your papers from unforeseen events.
It is easy to know where your important documents are if you store them in one location. Avoid the stress and wasted time of frantically searching for that “one important piece of paper.” Not only will you have peace of mind, but you will always know where your most important documents are when you need them.