Although tax season has come and gone, it is never a bad idea to re-evaluate the way you store and file personal, financial and tax documents. Document storage is something we feel strongly about—not just because you can keep many of your older files in a self storage unit, but because streamlining the way you keep and store papers is an important step in organizing your home.
Traditionally, document and file storage has been done primarily through the use of file cabinets and file folders. Those familiar beige cabinets are not the most beautiful pieces of furniture to showcase in your home, but they provide ample storage space for a relatively low cost. In more recent years, data storage has begun to replace file storage, which means that many of the documents you used to keep physical copies of can now be scanned and stored online.
Today, most people use a combination of low-tech and high-tech storage options—and innovations in file cabinet design mean that you can find document storage furniture that matches your décor.
Important Documents to Store
Most of us have the same set of basic personal information to keep track of. These include documents like:
- Birth certificates
- Death certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Social Security cards
- Immunization records
For ease of use, all of these items should be kept in one secure location in your home. Although it is not required to lock them up, identity theft makes a secure safe (waterproof and/or fireproof) or lock box a good idea.
Most experts recommend that you keep your financial information equally safe—and in an alternate location, if possible. It is important to hold onto things like old tax returns, pay stubs, bank account information and stocks and bonds, since these items are often required when you want to take out a loan or undertake long-term investment planning. Depending on the level of security you desire, these can be stored in a safe or lock box, kept at a bank in a security deposit box or even held with an attorney.
While we usually encourage people to rely on self storage to help streamline their homes, this is one instance where it is sometimes better to keep your items closer to home. Because you cannot keep an eye on your storage unit at all times, it is best to keep important papers at home and larger, less important items in storage. If you do choose a storage unit, be sure to select one with strong security, climate control and close proximity for easy access.
Personal Documents to Store
Of course, not everything you need to store will be paperwork. Many times, the items we cherish most are photographs, personal mementos, family genealogical charts and other things that do not need to be locked up.
This is one area where self storage can really come in handy. You may be able to scan these items and store them on your computer (or on online photo sharing sites) for your personal use, and keep the originals safely stowed away in your home or a storage unit. Of course, as is the case with any personal items you value, you will want to take into consideration things like safety, waterproofing, climate control and general wear and tear.
The right self storage unit will make climate controls and safety easy, so be sure and ask about what kinds of options are available in your area.