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?

Filed under: OrganizingPaper

Leave a comment


  1. Michelle


    I cannot get the file to open. Instead I receive a message that Word experienced an error trying to open the file.


    Andrea Reply:

    sorry! I’m not sure what to say. I just tried opening both attachments again and they opened right away. I wonder if you have a different version of Word and that’s the trouble??


  2. Vanessa


    I am just thinking of throwing the binder in the fireproof safe once it’s done and calling it a day. I guess I am not understanding the need to make copies. Please enlighten (or scare!) me into action. I am so anti-perfectionistic when it comes to nitty gritty details.


    Mar Reply:

    I was thinking the same thing! I also worry that someone could get a hold of the binder, and that is another reason for keeping it in a safe. Copies could perhaps go to a trusted family member’s home.


  3. Katie


    I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for this incredibly helpful post! Like you, I am the one in charge of pretty much all of our family administration because I actually really enjoy doing it…but I have legit lost so much sleep worrying about how my husband would be able to take over should something happen to me. I’ve wanted to set up something like this for a while but have suffered a bit of “perfection paralysis” that’s kept me from really starting…so thank you, thank you for providing an excellent system that I can use! Looking forward to the peace of mind this will bring!!


    Andrea Reply:

    yay — you’re SO welcome! Glad you will finally be able to cross this to-do off your list!!


  4. Barbara Siepierski


    When I print the word document, only the color words prints, not the black words . Not sure if it is just me but do you have any suggestions?


    Andrea Reply:

    i have a feeling it might just be your printer — it prints fine on mine. I wonder if you are out of black ink?


  5. Lisa


    Hi! Noticed in your Important Papers document that VEHICLE is misspelled. It is VEHICLE not VEHICAL


    Andrea Reply:

    ah — add it to the list 🙂
    Spelling is not my forte! I may or may not get around to changing this!!


  6. Julie


    Thank you for sharing this!


    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome Julie!


  7. Mary Ann


    Thank you for this I have been meaning to do thing but didn’t know where to start.. Helps a lot


  8. Brittany


    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ! So much! You have no idea how long I’ve been searching the internet (Pinterest , YouTube , Instagram , Facebook , etc ) for a simple layout of categories for ones filing cabinet and/or important paper storage ! I have legitimately messaged probably 10+ People from blogs to ask what exact categories do they use for their home filing & there was only one post I found that specified “home filing categories” but I needed more examples of categories . So this is awesome ! Great job ! If you happen to know of another site that has a LONGGGG list of categories/sub categories to put in ones home filing cabinet , or if you have another post that has such info, please message me or comment back 🙂 it would be GREATLY appreciated . Or even if you just have suggestions please !? Thank u again 🙂 p.s this is the first time I’ve ever commented on someone’s blog lol Just wanted to point that out just to prove how awesome I think this post is lol . Have a great day 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — happy to help!


  9. Ashley O


    Great post! I’ve been enjoying reading through your blog as I just found it a month or so ago via Organize 365! Just wondering – do you have a separate filing system or is this black book all your files? I read you have a fireproof safe, but do you keep a separate filing system where you store all your other stuff (ex. medical bill receipts for the year, tax info for the year, etc) and just have this black book in case someone would ever need the info? I don’t think I’d be able to fit all our documents into a three-ring binder and accordion binder.


    Andrea Reply:

    yay! So glad you found me through Lisa! Her podcasts are great!
    As for our filing needs, we have a very small filing cabinet that I use — 1 drawer for personal papers, 1 drawer for business papers. We keep all the “important info” stuff in our binder, and then we have a fireproof safe for passports, Social Security cards, etc. Here’s the post where I detail how I organize ALL the papers in our home!


  10. Maria M


    Thank you very much for providing this resource. I knew it was something that needed to be done but I didn’t know how to begin. Your printables, examples, and the Duo binder are wonderful. I am definitely following it and changing a the printables as it fits our family’s needs.


    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to help!!


  11. Barbara


    Is it possible to share how you use the binder part in a little more detail?
    I’m trying to understand what/how to use that section as far as documents/information.
    Thank you. Always enjoy your site!


  12. Emme Peterson


    This is fantastic! Definitely making one for our family, ordered the binder today.

    The hardest part I think will be where to store the finished product.

    Also, did you type in your information or just hand write them? I’ve started by copying onto a USB drive but am so paranoid about entering things on a computer.


    Andrea Reply:

    I typed all our information in — SO much easier to update it this way!
    Don’t be paranoid 🙂


  13. Joely


    This is great. I will be making one of these soon! I already ordered the binder. You mentioned that you have a few of these. Would you be able/willing to share how else you use them?
    Thank you


    Andrea Reply:

    we use them for craft paper, stickers, manuals, etc. I think we have 4 or 5 of them “hiding” around our house!


  14. belinda


    thank you for the information i greatly appericate it


  15. Tammie


    I was wondering how you actually make the binder. Is the file folder glued on, secured by 2 elastic/plastic fasteners?


  16. Deborah


    Great idea and well put together – How do you go about security – if you don’t have a safe and should your home be broken in to?
    Many thanks,


  17. Allye


    What do you keep in the front vs the back of the binder? I see two separate sections, but what goes in each section? Thank you


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  19. Diane R.


    I’ve thought about doing something like this, but…..what if someone breaks into your house? All they need to do is find your binder and your identity is now theirs. They can access anything they want to with this information. I don’t know of an alternative….other than maybe lock the binder in a safe (which they could still get if they’re good), or hide it (which would make it inconvenient when you need it). I just have this worry.


    Andrea Reply:

    Well, I guess for me, the likelihood of someone breaking into my house and searching for a potential binder with my information on it seems far less likely than Dave or me needing to find the information ASAP… so I’m willing to take that risk 🙂

    The binder has already come in handy so many times. I’m SO glad I did it.

    Also, in general, I’m not much of a worrier — so that might be part of the reason this doesn’t bother me!


  20. Wanda


    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I really needed help with this.


  21. Ellen


    this is awesome. Bill be getting the binder when they go on sale!


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  23. betheliza


    you’re awesome! i love your site..!!! God bless you always! Thanks for sharing & helping us be organize.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks! have fun organizing those important papers 🙂


  24. aimee


    Can you tell me where to get an organizer notebook like you have? I don’t recall ever seeing any product like this and I think it’d be perfect!



    Andrea Reply:

    yes aimee, I believe the link to the notebooks is in the post — but here is another post I wrote all about those binders. It explains how they work and has the links to buy them.


  25. April


    Thank you for sharing this most valuable information. I will definitely set up something like this for my loved ones to follow. Mine will also have my funeral wishes…the where, what and how to’s. I am a veteran so they will know who to contact after my death for burial rights.




  26. Jen T


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


    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!


    Jen T Reply:

    That would be great! Thanks much!

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


  27. Jen T


    Can I fly you in for a week?

    I’m serious.


  28. Sandy


    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.


    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.


    Shelley Reply:

    I actually did something similar after BOTH of my parents passed within 3 months of each other in 2015 and left a paperwork nightmare to deal with. I am a 60+ widow and didn’t want to leave a mess for my children when I am gone. I wrote all of my information in a binder, but did not put copies of important documents with it. That is something I will probably do after reading your post to make things a bit easier.

    As for all those who want to know WHERE to keep this…in plain sight is usually best. Thieves look in “hiding places” like closets, drawers and desks, but overlook the obvious. I put a “Family Favorites” label on my binder and put it in with my recipe books. Other good places are the laundry room, on top of the fridge, bottom shelf in the pantry, bathroom cabinet next to t-paper. These are also good hiding places for that fireproof safe.


    Andrea Reply:

    These are some GREAT tips Shelley! Thanks for sharing. I honestly would have never thought to put this binder in my pantry or by my recipe books but that’s not a bad idea!