What’s in your Lockbox?
Although I love my financial binder for a quick file reference, and I keep many files electronically, there are some documents that you should keep physically secure. Items such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, insurance information and your back-up hard drive should be securely tucked away in a locked, fireproof box.
Some people keep these items in a bank security box, but there are disadvantages to having your papers offsite. One reason is accessibly. When I need my birth certificate, I don’t want to wait for the bank to open, and to have to take off work to go to my security box during banking hours. I want to be able to grab documents when I need them.
If you are considering keeping your documents onsite, three types of inexpensive lockboxes under $100 are below. The photos are boxes that I have at my home, but I’ve linked to a few similar items:
Fire resistant cash box: a simple but durable metal container with a lock. Until very recently, my family used this type of box. It’s small, but simple and can be tucked away in a drawer or cabinet. Mine lost its handle along the way, but still works fine!
Small fireproof/waterproof lock box: a sturdy fireproof and waterproof box. Again, small and simple but a little more substantial. For both this option and the cash box, you do need to fold most papers to fit in the box, but I’ve never had trouble doing this, and most documents are already folded when received.
Medium size, fireproof/waterproof file lockbox box: Fireproof and waterproof file box that accommodates letter-size hanging files and folders for easy storage. I purchased one of these for about $60.00 at a local store and have been pleased with this hanging file format.
In all three cases, these boxes are not safes to keep your millions, someone could pick up and take the lockbox or break the lock. However, it is a safe place to store documents and keep them all in one central location, safe from fire and in some cases from water damage such as flooding.
Once you choose your lockbox type, next gather and organize your documents. I’ve created a listing of suggested items for your lockbox. Personalize it to fit your needs and what is irreplaceable to you if lost or just something you might need to get your hands on quickly. For example, your spare set of car keys, a flashdrive of your wedding/baby photos, or a small family heirloom. If you choose one of the smaller boxes, rubber band like items together, and use a notecard or to identify place on top before placing in the lockbox. You can also use an envelope to group small items such as social security cards.
If you choose the medium size, file lockbox, you can organize with hanging folders and file folders, labeling each one.
Think about your most important papers, are they all in one place and secured? If not, it’s time to create a lockbox for your home.
Up next week #6: To scan or not to scan.
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