The older you get, the more documents you have to keep track of and keep safe. Your essential documents may include birth certificates, marriage licenses, house deeds, business contracts, and financial documents. People may feel overwhelmed by the number of paper documents they have that they know they need to keep but don’t know what to do with. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A few simple steps can give you the peace of mind that your documents are safe and available when needed.
Here are a few ways to keep your documents safe.
You can buy tax envelopes, binders, and mailers to keep your documents safe while at home or being transported or sent somewhere. Proper holders or envelopes are sturdier and more resistant to light damage than regular envelopes or folders. Specialized envelopes and holders are also made to the size you need, so you don’t have to fold your documents to send them or take them somewhere. These are particularly helpful around tax season when you are trying to get everything organized to bring to your accountant. Keeping extra supplies handy will make it easy to manage new documents when they come into your house.
If you have your documents in storage, you need to make sure they are climate controlled units. Paper documents can be destroyed by moisture in the air, so storage units that offer moisture and climate control will keep your documents from growing mold and falling apart. You should keep all of your papers organized inappropriate file folders or envelopes and a file box or cabinets even within a storage unit. That will keep them from getting damaged from being crumpled up or shoved in a box. It will also make them easier to find when you need something. Choose a storage facility that has taken extra steps to ensure the security of the property and the units. Plenty of lighting and individual access are essential features.
If you have documents you need to keep at your house, invest in a fire safe. They are sold at most stores where they sell office supplies. A fire safe will protect your documents from fire, smoke, and water should you have a house fire or flood. A fire safe can be bought in multiple different sizes and stored nearly anywhere in the house. It is essential to know where it is stored so that if there is a house fire, you will know roughly where to look for the fire safe in the debris.
While it is still critical to keep the originals safe, making digital copies of everything will help you maintain accurate records. They can also help you in the short term if you are working on getting original documents replaced, which can be a long and frustrating process. Digital copies can be made by scanning the originals and saving them on an external thumb drive or hard drive. The thumb drive or hard drive should then be kept in the fire safe to ensure nothing happens to it.
Keeping documents safe may feel like a frustrating task, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to use proven methods and ones that work for you. For example, if you have no other need for a storage unit, then it might not be a suitable place to keep documents. If you are easily overwhelmed by file cabinets or boxes, you can find a more straightforward way to hold your documents, or you can put them directly into the fire safe, knowing you’ll need to go through the pile to find what you need.