How to Organize Important Documents

Storing Important Documents

There are many methods for organizing your important documents. There's the low-tech approach, which utilizes file cabinets and file folders, and then there's the high-tech approach, which utilizes online or digital storage. You can use whichever method works best for you, including a combination of both low and high tech.

Documents like birth, death and marriage certificates and social security cards, immunization records and passports are all very important and should be kept in a secure location. A safe deposit box or home safe will do the trick. If you go with the home safe option, make sure your safe is waterproof and fireproof [source: NOLO]. It should also be fairly easy to move, so lock boxes can be a good alternative.

Digital and online storage options are convenient, easy to use and provide easy access to your documents. Digital storage of photos is an excellent way to keep your treasured family photos safe while providing you with an easy way to share them with friends and family. Web sites like and are free and allow you to store your photos and decide who can view them.

Now that you know where you can store your important documents, another thing to consider is where not to store them. A big mistake some people make is carrying their important documents in a wallet or purse. This is a big no-no. Carrying a social security card or birth certificate around with you significantly increases the risk that it will be lost or stolen [source: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse].

Reduce your risk of identity theft and save yourself a lot of time and stress in the process -- get organized! For more information on organizing important documents, check out the links on the following page.

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  • Baum, Katrina PhD. "Identity Theft, 2005." Bureau of Justice Statistics. (Accessed 1/7/10)
  • Federal Trade Commission. "DETER: Minimize Your Risk." (Accessed 1/6/10)
  • IRS (Accessed 1/7/10),,id=98513,00.html
  • Microsoft Online Safety. "Backing Up: What, How, Where." (Accessed 1/7/10)
  • Money Management International. "How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft." (Accessed 1/7/10)
  • National Association of Professional Organizers (Accessed 1/6/10)
  • NOLO. "Disaster Proofing Your Documents." (Accessed1/7/10)
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "My Social Security Number -- How Secure Is It?" (Accessed 1/7/10)