Finding the Right Home for Financial Documents
Financial document storage and organization can be overwhelming, especially when considering the choice between physical or cloud storage. We refrain from throwing anything away because we never really know when we might need to reference a certain document, and getting a new copy is often a time consuming inconvenience. The result is that our computers and file cabinets often become bloated with unnecessary papers, and when you do need to recall an important document, it is nowhere to be found in the nest of useless papers.
In order to cut the confusion out of your financial life, we have created a checklist that simply outlines what documents you need to keep, how long to keep them and where you should store them. We recommend using a combination of physical storage and cloud storage to protect and simplify your financial life.
Click to Download the Checklist.
Financial Document Storage Options & Recommendations
For physical storage we suggest a safe deposit box, the secure storage lockers located in the vault of your local bank. You can purchase the rights to a box from your local bank on an annual basis; cost varies by location, size of the box, availability of boxes and by the size of your holdings with the bank. For example, Bank of America charges $101 for a 25 square inch box, TD Bank charges $125 for a 27 square in box and Santander charges $120 for a similar size. Larger customers may be able to get a discount on the their safe deposit box purchase. Call your local branch ahead to get pricing.
Fireproof filing cabinets are an alternative type of physical storage. These cabinets hold your documents behind an insulated and locked barrier that can be easily stored in your house. They provide added protection, from predatory humans and the elements, for your important documents. Simple fireproof file boxes are all most households need, and they cost under $100. Larger multi-level fireproof file cabinets can easily reach over $500, but are generally unnecessary for home use. These file boxes can make replacing vital documents one less thing to worry about.
Lastly, cloud storage allows your documents to be saved to a third party server through the internet, if your situation cannot accommodate physical storage of the files. If your personal hard drive or computer is damaged and you need to retrieve a document, you will be able to access your cloud-saved documents through any computer with internet access. Below are three potential options for cloud storage platforms. For simple financial document storage, the free option for each website should provide sufficient storage. For additional cloud storage beyond financial documents, a paid subscription with more capacity may be worth taking into consideration.
- Provides 10GB of free online storage
- For $5 per month users can get 100GB of storage
- Allows saving of any type of file and can be accessed from your computer, phone or tablet
- Files such as photos, videos and financial information can be organized into labeled folders for organized storage
- Online editing of documents without downloading
- Provides 15GB of free online storage
- For $5 per month users can get 30GB of storage
- Files can be saved and edited online with google docs, sheets and slides
- Regular PDF’s, Microsoft Word Documents, PDF’s, and Powerpoints can also be uploaded to Drive
- To edit Microsoft based documents files must be downloaded, saved, then reuploaded
- Online editing of google doc-based files
- Provides 2TB of storage for $12.95 per month, best value for paid option, only a brief free trial period available
- Easy to use sharing and collaboration tools
- Upload Word docs, PDF’s, powerpoints, pictures, videos, almost any type of file
- Simple and user-friendly interface to organize and store
- Integration with Microsoft 365, which allows for online collaboration and editing without downloading
Using each of these three storage methods to their potential with the Financial Document checklist will save you time and headache when trying to retrieve your financial documents. Invest the time into storing your papers properly and reference the sheet again when you need to remember where you put those mortgage statements.
While you’re at it, now might be a good time to see if you have any rights to unclaimed property and benefits you didn’t even know exist. Check out our blog post, “Finding the Forgotten.”