We have previously discussed the importance of organization in our lives, and most importantly in our financial lives. One key component to this is having a clear, concise means of gaining access to the information you need when you need it. It is very important to have original signed documents locked safely away in a fireproof safe, but in this extremely digital age there is another way to safely keep important documents. Instead of stuffing a safe full of paperwork, we can scan documents into our computer and save them to a conveniently small portable flash drive or a cloud based document server such as Google Drive or Dropbox. These alternatives allow us to have an encrypted and secure means to place our important documents. The originals can be kept safe and secure in a safety deposit box, while the digital backup can be at home or stored online so they can be easily accessed and on demand.
As we go through life, we collect various pieces of paper significant to our existence. Among these are birth, death and marriage certificates, deeds, life insurance policies, stock certificates, wills, powers of attorney, and the list goes on. In reality, how often do we go into these documents and pull them out? The answer is not often. However, the key to these documents is having the ability to put your finger on them when you need them. Digitizing them is an easy way to do it. Once they are digitized, you can place the originals in a safe and secure place for availability when you actually need the originals.
Digitizing documents is only one of the ways you can utilize this technology. We often suggest our clients take a video of their home and its contents, or go through and catalog specific items with a digital camera. This way if anything should happen to your home, you have a specific source to show the items along with the original receipt you scanned in to show the price of those items. Doing this in advance takes all the guesswork out of making a homeowner’s claim down the road. Having access to all of these documents, photos, and other pertinent items will make life much easier for you, if you should ever need them.
Choosing the proper digital storage is crucial because you will need to find something with some staying power to make your life easier. Digital media has gone through many phases over the years. It has gone from the giant floppy discs of the 80’s to the smaller diskettes, zip drives, CDs, hard drives, external large capacity hard drives, flash drives, to most recently storage in the cloud. Digital media is ever evolving and constantly becoming more efficient. It is taking our lives from paper to paperless with the digital world bringing us virtual filing cabinets and storage taking up no physical space in our lives. Storing digital backup on your computer’s hard drive can be very convenient, but it does not always make sense. Computers are vulnerable to viruses and crashing. In all cases, we suggest a solid state flash drive to store your documents. As a backup, we suggest storing them somewhere else using the cloud, which is simply an external server system housed at various locations in the world. This way your information can be in the original form, stored on a flash drive for your convenience and backed up by external servers for quick accessibility and safe from being lost.