FireSafe Your Personal Finance Documents

Brave Fire FightersNov 16, 2010: On a quiet evening, a couple of years ago, we returned from work to find our apartment complex in flames. In front of our eyes we saw one apartment after another being consumed by monstrous flames. While we helplessly looked on, our city's brave fire fighters fought the flames. By God's grace they put out the fire when it was a couple of apartments away from ours. Though our apartment was charred our belongings were intact. Most of our neighbors had lost everything. We tried to help them to the best of our abilities and in the process learnt a lot.

As our neighbors had never anticipated the potential consequences of a fire they had to undergo some hardships to get back to their lives. Documents related to personal finance like checkbooks, certificates of deposits, shareholders' certificates, e-money files, backups, important stuff like passports, social security cards, medical records and more were burnt to ashes. The lucky ones were the people who were working at their jobs and had their wallets on them. For the rest even that was out of reach. Consequently quite a few of them were identity less, had no credit / ATM cards, no cash, no driver's license or an extra set of clothes on them. Pretty scary! However with help from friends, employers, city officials and tonnes of paper work most of them got back their identities and plastic money. The recovery was a slow process spanning over weeks.

Sentry SafeWe immediately reflected on what we could do to save ourselves from such hardships. Two options became clear. One was to purchase a fire safe and put all our important documents in it. Not that fire safes are totally safe from fire but they can resist it for a few hours. We chose a couple of fire safes from Sentry to protect our personal documents.

The other was to keep a copy of the originals in a safe deposit box at a bank away from our apartment. Both these techniques are not fool proof but they provide some resilience to a natural calamity. Another neat idea is to keep a back-up file of all our online accounts and passwords at a different place (i.e. not in our residence). Take care to keep them at a safe place lest we lose them to a thief. A safe deposit locker at a bank is a good place to store back-up drives.

SafetyOn hindsight, it's a nice idea to store our important stuff in such a way that we can grab them and leave at a moment's notice. If we can't do so, it'd be great to have a back-up at a safe place with an easy access for unforeseen disasters like fire, flash floods, thefts or unknown surprises.

We hope that our experience about safe keeping important personal documents was useful to you. Please share your views and ideas about fire proofing crucial documents. Looking forward towards your feedback :).

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto

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