Organizing Your Personal Documents – Can you go without it?

Do you know where all your important documents are? Could you just grab everything and run out of the house in case of an emergency? Most of us aren’t prepared for an emergency and hopefully won’t need to “run out of the house”, but even for simple acts like renewing a passport, you’ll want to be able to find everything without launching a “search & rescue” operation through the house, right?

Because we’re going to spend a vacation in Rio (amazing photos await) I’m going through the process of checking all our documents to make sure when the time comes, all is in place.

After so many trips and moves with the kids, this is now an easy process because all is organized and I keep track of each of our passports with a master list for each of us. So I thought I could share some ideas on how to handle and safely keep your important documents.

Organizing Your Personal Documents
Organizing Your Personal Documents

What documents do we keep in our personal document container? Important documents such as:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Property deeds and surveys
  • Wills

These are documents I consider “permanent” and that need a safe home.

Some personal document containers are fire-proof, have password-protected locks or keys to ensure extra protection.

If you have a family you know you’ll need to keep track of all the personal documents for each member of the family and often it’s necessary to purchase more than one document container to guarantee that all your important papers are in safe “hands” (storage).

When planning the purchase of a personal document container also consider that it should protect your personal documents from flood and water damage and where in your home you’ll place your container safely.

But what documents should we keep in this container? I find it makes it easier to decide which documents require protection when I consider the effect of the loss, should it occur.

Certain documents may be replaced, though not without considerable inconvenience, while others may require just a phone call to the insurance company.

Where can you find them? 

Most office supply stores and online office suppliers offer a complete selection of fireproof, waterproof, and damage-proof document containers at fairly reasonable prices.

These are available in a wide range of sizes and widths and most offer dust and mold-free containers and secure covers with grip locks and tote handles for easier transport. Whew!

Now, how to organize your documents inside the containers? You will want to use a simple filing system.

In our family, I have a folder for each of us and in them, I have a scan and a certified copy of all essential documents. I use tabbed dividers that make it easy to locate the name and I use color-coded hanging files.

Diverting a little on the original use of personal documents containers… but I also recommend and make use of our document container to save original pictures of my family as well as backups of our photos and of course, our tax records.

personal document container

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