How I Store and Organize Our Important Info. + FREE Printables

posted by Andrea | 01/14/2013

Printable Organizing Document

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I really LOVE keeping all our important information neat, organized, and in one place :)

Because of this, I’ve always been the one “in charge” of our finances — not because Dave couldn’t do it — just because I’m a sick woman and get so much pleasure from balancing the checkbook, finding (and fixing) discrepancies in our utility bills, and making sure everything that’s supposed to be paid is paid on time each month and each year.

I know, I’m weird!

Anyway, since I also detest paper clutter of any kind, I’ve opted for only paperless statements that come directly to my email, and I’ve automated almost every bill, payment, statement, etc.

For example…

  • Dave’s paycheck is automatically deposited into our checking account every 2 weeks (my income all goes into our saving’s account)
  • Throughout the month, we pay for everything with our credit card (groceries, gas, utilities, home expenses, travel, entertainment, everything!)
  • At the end of the month, our credit card bill is automatically deducted from our checking account (we pay it in full each month)
  • At the beginning of every month, our mortgage payment, IRA contributions, and a few other investments are automatically deducted from our checking account
  • Once a year, our home owner’s insurance is automatically charged to our credit card.
  • Twice a year, our auto insurance is automatically charged to our credit card.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

All of this happens without me even lifting a finger — and honestly, over the last 6+ years of doing everything electronically, I’ve maybe had two issues — which were both immediately cleared up with a simple phone call.

So I’m sure you can imagine how much time this saves me, how much space it saves in our filing cabinet, and how much stress it alleviates because I never have to think about it.

The ONLY problem with not having paper statements and having everything so automated is that if anything ever happened to me, Dave would have no clue where all the money is coming from, where it’s going, how to access it if needed, who to contact, or what any of our account passwords are.

And, if anything ever happened to BOTH Dave and I, our parents or other relatives would have nothing… unless they knew how to log into my email address and find the statements and contact information in my Gmail folders (and I don’t think our parents would think to do this).

Not cool. 

So, because I like to keep things as simple and as organized as possible, I created a single binder that contains EVERY piece of important information relevant to our family, our home, and our life. 

Every account number, every password, every phone number, every contact person. It’s all there… and then some!

Meet my “Little Black Book”!

Important Information Binder

It’s actually not that little — it’s one of those Duo 2-in-1 Binder Files I gave away last month.

The Duo is one organizing tool that Dave and I each love and use on a daily basis (we have a few of them that we use for many different purposes.)

Anyway, I use my “Little Black Book” to store and organize our personal, financial, insurance, home, auto, and retirement information — all in one convenient location.

Little Black Book

I use the 3-ring binder part (along with a few color-coded tabs and clear plastic sleeves) to organize the majority of our information. As you can see, I also taped a few important business cards to the front flap of the binder.

Then I use the accordion file (with matching color-coded tabs) to organize the bulkier items like insurance manuals, extra checkbooks, property deeds, etc.

Accordion Folder

Both the binder and the accordion files have the following tabs:

  • Personal: (contact information, addresses, driver’s license #, social security #)
  • Financial: (banking, investments, debt)
  • Insurance: (life, health, dental, etc)
  • Home / Auto: (mortgage, title, home insurance, auto insurance, auto information)
  • Retirement : (IRA’s, Pensions, 401k’s, 403b’s)

I also have a section for my business information — but we’re not focusing on that today since that won’t apply to most of you.

Every document or piece of paperwork for each of those categories is inserted into individual plastic sleeves and put in the 3-ring binder section. Then if there are any documents that don’t fit in a plastic sleeve, they go into the accordion file section under the corresponding tab.

Make sense?

I also created a “Cover Sheet” for the very front of each of my main categories. These Cover Sheets serve as a “quick reference guide” to each category.

You can see an example of the Cover Sheet for our “personal info” category on the right side of the image below (click on the image to enlarge it)

Important Info. Free Printable

The Cover Sheets contain all the most important information for each category at a glance — then other corresponding documentation and paperwork can be found inside the binder or inside the accordion folder.

For example, within the “personal info” tab, we have the following:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Copy of our Marriage License
  • Copy of all our Birth Certificates and Social Security cards
  • Copy of our Driver’s Licenses and Passports
  • Copy of Dave’s teaching certificate
  • Important medical records / information (not bills or anything like that)
  • Copy of our Will (we’re in the process of making this so it’s not actually in there yet)

The actual documents listed above are all in our fireproof safe. 

Not only does my Little Black Book give me (and Dave) peace of mind, it also actually comes in handy on a regular basis as I now have all my paperwork and contact information in one convenient location (I don’t have to look through different files in our filing cabinet anymore).

Accordion Folder

This binder was extremely simple to set up, it’s extremely simple to maintain, and (most importantly) it should be extremely simple for someone who doesn’t know anything about our family/home/finances/life to come in and pick up the pieces if the need ever arises.

Everything is neat, organized, updated, and ALL in one place! 

Important Information Binder

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we also have a digital copy of all the information in our Little Black Book on our portable hard drive (which is in our fireproof safe)… because you can’t be too careful :)

FREE Printables for You!

I figured that since I already did the work of creating these documents for myself, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to let you download a copy of our Cover Sheets… for free!

Printable Organizing Document

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLES BELOW — they are just Word documents, and 100% editable (nothing fancy but they work!)

I know it will take a little bit of work to get all your documents together, but it will be SO worth it once you have everything organized.

I know I feel much better knowing that if something ever happened to me, Dave would be able to focus his attention on Nora and other more important things than worrying about finances, home insurance, or other seemingly trivial matters.

How do you store your important information?

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56 comments

  1. julie spady

    01/17/2013

    Great idea! Will you please come help me!! haha

    [Reply]

  2. Cyndi

    01/31/2013

    Hi, wanted you to know I sent you an email (notifying you here in case it goes into the junk box lol) this post is great!

    [Reply]

  3. Jennifer

    02/04/2013

    Love this. I started working on a similar binder a few years back but never finished it. You have inspired me to start again. Thank you. BTW where did you buy your binder?

    [Reply]

  4. Dealing with Paper Clutter and Creating an Organized Home Filing System » Mom Writes Life

    02/05/2013

    [...] system.I’m really excited about how we store our vital records. I basically followed this amazing template from Simple Organized Living and applied it to our home. I have a few more categories that include our parents’ [...]

  5. Kimberly

    02/10/2013

    I’m wondering if there is a cheaper way to order them? I need 2 but the shipping is $8.99…..that’s pricey. Any suggestions??

    [Reply]

  6. Patti Wood

    02/13/2013

    Free shipping right now on that website. I just ordered one.

    [Reply]

  7. Lynn

    02/23/2013

    Hi, I love your binder idea. What a wonderful thing to have ready if something was to happen toyou. I do wonder however about the security of having all those passwords all in one place. Do you worry about that? What if someone got a hold of you binder and used it for the wrong reasons?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lynn,
    That’s a good question, but honestly, I don’t think it would be very likely for our binder to fall into the wrong hands. On the flip side, the binder is SO helpful for us on a weekly basis and it means that our family will have all the information they need in the event of a death or other emergency.
    If a burglar or other “hacker” really wanted to find our information, they could do that relatively easily even without the binder (looking through our filing cabinet and/or stealing our laptop, so I guess I just figure it’s more important that we have the information organized for us right now than worry about a “what if” situation that will hopefully never happen.
    Does this help?

    [Reply]

  8. Chrissy

    02/26/2013

    Andrea thank you for this wonderful article . I thought I was fairly organized until our move, the birth of two boys and starting m own business – my office is a nightmare . I will be buying a few of these binders for recipes and other paperwork :)

    [Reply]

  9. Sallie @ A Quiet Simple Life

    03/01/2013

    Do you back up all of your information outside of your home? Unless your safe is bolted down, keeping your only backup in there really doesn’t cover your bases.

    We had close relatives whose home was broken into while they were gone. The thieves took the safe with them and our relatives never saw it again. They lost some really precious things in that safe that can never be replaced.

    Safes are also not foolproof when it comes to fires. Most people assume they all are, but they are not all created equal in that regard.

    I think keeping a copy in a safety deposit box or on Mozy/Carbonite would be safer. We keep our photos and hard drives backed up on Mozy. We keep our home movies in three places. The originals are in the safety deposit box, a copy is in our home, and a copy is in someone else’s home a significant distance from our home. I’d be more upset to lose the home videos than anything we own so we’ve really tried to cover our bases with that one.

    [Reply]

  10. Kathy C

    03/21/2013

    Thank you, Andrea. I finally got around to completing this project. I ordered the same binder and used your free printables. Thanks for the idea, the inspiration and providing us the documents to get started.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yay — doesn’t it feel great to know all your papers are organized!

    [Reply]

  11. Lisa

    05/12/2013

    Thank you for this info! I’m beginning the process of creating two binders for my family, but I’m confused as to what then still goes in files exactly. Can you share what, if anything, now gets filed in say, the cabinet? I don’t want to duplicate of I don’t have to!! Thank you again!

    [Reply]

  12. Stephanie

    05/22/2013

    Dave Ramsey has a new class called the Legacy Journey. The homework each week is to complete a portion of what he calls the Legacy Box, which sounds exactly like what you have created here. We printed off your worksheets and will have our legacy box completed soon. My husband also took your printables to the class to show others. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  13. Robin

    05/22/2013

    After attending a retirement class with my husband’s work (state agency), they advised us to keep his paystub, all together, until he retires. Doing so allows us to verify his retirement pay is calculated accurately. They said, it’s in our best interest, as others have had their calculations incorrect. :(

    I’ve thought about going paper with PG&E, but they only allow you access to the last two years of your history. I’m considering scanning them to get rid of the paper.

    [Reply]

  14. Heidi

    05/22/2013

    Cool. I am actually in the middle of organizing my documents right now and I’m sure this article will come in handy.

    [Reply]

  15. Krista

    01/06/2014

    What type of Fireproof safe do you have? I’m thinking of investing in one. There is a wide price range so I’d like to get something not too expensive, but still quality.

    [Reply]

  16. Sandy

    01/07/2014

    Hi Andrea,

    I love reading your blog and am so envious of your organizing skills. This stuff just does not come naturally to me!! But I’m trying. Silly question maybe, but where do you keep this binder of information? Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sandy — I’ve intentionally chosen NOT to share where exactly we keep this information in our home… just for privacy purposes. You definitely wouldn’t want to keep it just sitting out in the open — but still somewhere that’s easy to access if need be.

    [Reply]

  17. Jen T

    01/09/2014

    Can I fly you in for a week?

    I’m serious.

    [Reply]

  18. Jen T

    01/09/2014

    Did you ever do anything about your business section? Would love to see that.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Jen, I actually did.
    I put all my LLC paperwork, my tax paperwork, and important business/website/financial contacts in there in case someone needs to “pick up where I left off” or just tie up loose ends for me.

    Maybe I’ll have to do a follow up blog post since this is the time of year people are looking to organize their paperwork!

    [Reply]

    Jen T Reply:

    That would be great! Thanks much!

    Is it weird that I totally have a non-stalker crush on you, lol?

    [Reply]

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