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How to Organize Your Important Documents

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As tax season approaches (gulp) I thought I would share some of my tips for organizing your most important papers and documents. If you’ve ever misplaced your passport right before an international trip (my hand is up!), or spent hours unearthing every room of your home trying to track down for your vehicle registration, this post is for you. My simple process for ensuring you never misplace an important document again is coming right up…

organize documents

Gather the Goods

Before you start organizing you’ll need to gather up the goods. I like to separate out my most important documents from the rest of my filed paperwork. These are the documents I would want to grab in a fire or an earthquake.

My list includes:

  • Family Passports
  • Pet-Related Documents
  • Social Security Cards
  • Marriage and Birth Certificates
  • Vehicle Registration and Titles
  • Property Records
  • Life Insurance
  • Wills, Trusts, and Power of Attorney Docs

Note: I keep other docs like medical records, past tax documents, and business paperwork in a single portable file box.

Digitize Your Docs

While it’s crucial to have a safe, centralized place for your hard copies, it can also bring you great peace of mind to have all of your most important documents scanned and saved on a hard drive as back up. Digitizing doesn’t take long and will help you breath easy if you ever need to reference something when you’re away from home. Pro tip: There are free apps like Scannable that will help you digitize your docs with the click of a button.

Organize and Label in One Place

One of the biggest organizing mistakes I see is overcomplicating the process with too many detailed systems. Let’s keep it simple. Invest in a single compact organizer to store your most important documents. I use this folio document organizer for mine and love that it has separate compartments and comes with sticker labels for each category. It took me less than fifteen minutes to set it up, and I love that now all of my documents are stowed and organized in one centralized place. I even added a few of my most precious photos and letters so I’ll never have to hunt for them again. I also tracked down this top-rated fireproof document bag that could be a wise investment if you live in an area prone to fires like I do.

Store Safely

Depending on your comfort level you can store your organizer in a safe deposit box at your bank, a portable fireproof lockbox, or tucked away in a safe discreet place in your home or office. Make sure to tell your partner and/or closest family members where you’ve stored these docs and fill them in on any relevant passwords they might need for access.

Best case scenario is that you will never need to grab and dash with your most important papers and identification, but in the event you ever do, you’ll be so thankful you invested the small amount of time and money it will take to get everything prepared. Are you breathing easier already? I hope so.

Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson 

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7 comments on “How to Organize Your Important Documents

  1. I FINALLY DID IT! I gathered all of our important documents, ordered a folio, and am now jumping for joy. Why it took my (Type A, self-employed, uber-organized) self almost to 40 years on earth to do this I have no idea. THANK YOU for this nudge and for the clear steps. It made all the difference. I’ll think of you every time I easily access these documents!

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