If somebody came to your door and said that you were on a radio spot competition and that if you could produce your youngest child’s social security card within 30 seconds you would win $100.00, could you? Or how about any of your children’s birth certificates for $50.00 bucks? I know, maybe you could find their shot papers – you know, the yellow ones that the County Health Department gives you of their entire immunization history? Or maybe not.
Okay, okay, I know that scenario is pretty farfetched, and you certainly wouldn’t want to give people your important papers, but my point is, where are all of your family’s important papers? Are they scattered from one file to another with some of it in the kid’s scrapbooks? Think about it. Okay, enough thinking. I’ll bet that you don’t have everything together where you can find it in a moment’s notice, but don’t worry – I have a solution to what I have just pointed out as a problem.
I bought three 3” notebooks, a box of sheet protectors and a couple of packets of divider tabs. I then took one afternoon and gathered ALL of our important papers together and separated them out. The first notebook was for each of our personal papers such as: birth certificates, social security cards, baptismal records, priesthood and young women advancements, patriarchal blessings, passports, immunization records, and such. Anything that is important, and the original document would be difficult to replace. I then put each document into its own protective sleeve. I separated each person by using the divider tabs.
This is NOT a scrapbook. Put the pictures back into the photo album. This is an Important Personal Document (IPD) file. If you want little Johnny’s birth certificate in his photo album, fine, go down to a color copier and copy it off, but put the original in with the IPD file. We only have four people in our family and so that only took about half the book up. The other half of the book I put any car titles, boat titles and trailer titles. This is also a good place to put water shares, large and expensive furniture paid-in-full receipts, or stocks and bonds.
The second book I used for insurance paperwork. I set it up the same way – each document had its own sleeve and I put a divider between each section. The types of insurance I included are: house insurance, car and vehicle insurance, health and life insurance, and any special riders. This is also a good place to put a Trust or last will and testament and any other type of instruction and legal paperwork concerning your health.
The third book I used for credit card storage and credit information. I set up a sheet protector for each card and all of the information that they came with including what their interest rates are, any special offers and when they expire, numbers that I call for information or help with the credit card, etc. This is also a good place to keep track of any loan papers. I also made a list of all of the credit cards that I have, their account numbers and emergency numbers to call, and printed it out for the front of the book – just in case. You can store all of this in a safety deposit box or buy a gun safe and keep it safe at home; either way, you will know where everything is, and you won’t lose any of it.
You might also consider scanning all of the information that you gathered and save it on a thumb drive just as a second back-up. I know that it isn’t the original document, but it still gives you the information you need.
I know that it might seem a little overwhelming, but it really did only take one afternoon (a long one, yes) to gather this all together, but when you get it done, it will make you feel very accomplished. This is the information that you will want to have available to grab-and-go in an emergency or just be able to access the next time you fill out a scout or school medical information sheet. And the next time you open the door to a radio station willing to pay you to see your birth certificate – you will know exactly where it is!