Weather-proof your financial documents

The weather across the country this year has been nothing short of crazy. From tornadoes to droughts to hurricanes, the weather patterns have proven to be unpredictable.

Because severe weather strikes whether you’re ready or not – so it’s important to ensure that all of your personal, financial documents are disaster-proof.

The following are a few tips to keep your important records safe and dry:

  • You should first locate all of your documents according to category. Make sure you have access to your personal identification documents, which include your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, and marriage license. You should also inventory your financial records, including banking information, account numbers, retirement account information, insurance policies, tax records, deeds, mortgage papers, vehicle titles, and your will.
  • Make copies of all of your important documents, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, social security cards, and wills. Keep all of the originals at your residence, and keep the copies at an alternate location, such as a safety-deposit box at the bank or with a trusted family member.
    Keep all of your important papers and documents in a fire-proof, waterproof lock box that you can easily grab if necessary. Make sure all of your family members know where it’s located in case of an emergency.
  • Make digital copies of your records and documents. Scan items such as birth certificates and tax documents. If you’re storing these documents on a computer, make sure you back up your computer on a regular basis. You can save the most important documents on an external hard drive that you can keep in your lockbox.
  • Keep an inventory of your valuable items for insurance purposes. Set aside a day every month or so and review the list and make sure it’s up to date. It won’t take a lot of time, but it will become extremely valuable in the case of an emergency.
  • Review your property insurance policies with you agent. If you don’t know what your policy covers, now is the time to find out – not in the wake of a disaster.

As with any crisis, proper preparation makes the road to recovery a much smoother one. While it’s not fun to imagine worst-case scenarios, it’s ultimately better to be safe than sorry.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.