If you only do one thing to improve your finances this year, focus on getting all of those things into your fire safe that should be there already. And if you haven’t bought a fire safe yet, go order one right now! Seriously. This isn’t something to put off. Life happens, and it happens fast. It doesn’t care about best intentions, and it doesn’t care how busy you are. Just ask the girl who found herself with a 90% gutted house after her neighbor’s tree came crashing down. Yep, I’ve lived through the what if, and I’m here to tell you that setting up a fire safe is the single best thing that you can do to protect your finances and your memories. It also happens to be the single best thing that you can do for your family. If something should happen to you, making your important papers easy to locate will make a painful time just a bit less trying. I know nobody wants to think about these things, and I know that the process of setting up a fire safe is a real drag. Believe me; I know. But I also know that it is so vitally important, and so incredibly good for your peace of mind.
Ready to put in the work to set yours up? Here’s what I recommend including in your fire safe:
- Home inventory list (both a written inventory and photos or a DVD of your property) Use my printable home inventory list to get the job done. I shared it on thebalance.com.
- Receipts for all major purchases (either physical or digital copies)
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- Voter’s registration cards
- Marriage License
- Military Documents
- Important account information (account names, account numbers, account holder’s name(s), contact addresses, contact phone numbers, usernames and passwords) Here’s a printable that you can use
- Copies of all insurance policies (life, home/renter’s, auto, disability, umbrella, health, etc.)
- Copies of your diplomas, degrees, certifications and important recognitions
- Record of your childrens’ fingerprints and DNA, along with a recent photo (our police department makes little ID booklets for free at community events)
- Copy of your will and power of attorney (if applicable), along with your lawyer’s contact information
- A copy of your vehicle titles, house deed (if applicable) and property survey
- A copy of the front and back of all of your credit cards, debit cards and driver’s license (to help you identify and report when a card has been stolen)
- A copy of all important papers (past tax returns, loan documents, investments, settlements and agreements)
- Current medical information (including contact information for your doctors and pharmacy and a record of all medications that you take
- Special family photos (either physical or digital copies)
- Keys (a spare for each vehicle and your safety deposit box)
- Backups of important computer files
Once you have all of that buttoned down, make an extra copy of your will, power of attorney, home inventory list and anything else that’s especially critical, and give it to someone you trust for safe keeping. It’s better to have too many copies than too few.
Ready for your next organization project? Start with these. Then, come back for more:
- How to Organize Family Records
- How to Organize House Records
- How to Organize Users’ Manuals
- How to Organize Auto Records
- How to Set Up a Household Notebook
- How to Organize Tax Records
- How to Organize Financial Records
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