HDYDI: Filing Important Papers

This is my PSA for the day:  If you do not have a safe deposit box, get one!  Why, you ask?  Read on, my sweet followers.

Back in 2001, I had just given birth to our first child and things were swimming along.  That is, until one lovely Saturday afternoon, while we were home with friends, our house was struck by lightning and caught fire.  Yep, it struck the gas line, found a weak spot in the tubing (thankfully) and instead of blowing up the house, it ignited our subfloor, catching the basement on fire.  The whole story is another blog post, but we were able to contain the fire and only suffered about $25,000 in damage.  Unfortunately, it fried every electronic thing we owned (including the computer) and we lost some valuable things and vowed that we needed to do something about how we stored our important paperwork.

Enter:  the safe deposit box.  Since 2001, we’ve had four more kids, moved twice and our need for organized document storage moved to the bottom of the to-do pile.  I had the box, but just found myself stuffing everything I *thought* was important in there.  As I was cleaning out the files during Lent as part of my 40 Bags for 40 Days challenge, I decided it was time to get that box in order, too.

Here’s my before:

If you haven’t discovered this bit of organized heaven, then skip on over to iheartorganizing.  She has wonderful ideas and provides great inspiration for many projects around our house, big and small.  I’ve blogged before about her school paper organization idea.  Instead of reinventing a great idea, I just repurposed it and used her graphics for organizing the safe deposit box.

First things, first.  I took everything out of the box, brought it home and sorted it into like piles:

Homestead (house closing documents, surveys, appraisals and car titles)

Birth Certificates

School Records (for us and the kids: report cards, transcripts, etc.)

Estate Records (wills, organ donation and durable power of attorney)

Identification (SS cards and passports)

Sacramental Records (baptism, eucharist, communion and confirmation)

After sorting it all, I used some plain folders I had in the office and made some labels and popped the materials in the folders.  Instead of putting everything back into a manila folder that I couldn’t see inside, I decided to “splurge” and buy five clear accordion files from my home away from home, The Container Store, at $1.99.  The smaller one was $.99 (I think).

As I pulled out 15 CDs, I think I heard 1996 calling for them back.  I realized I had an old external hard drive that wasn’t getting much use at home, so I copied all our photos onto the drive and inserted it into the box, as well.

Oh, here’s the AFTA!!

The total project cost me about $12, as well as the expense of ordering two birth certificates (in Texas it was $44) and the yearly fee for renting the box.  Money. Well. Spent.

Now, the files are super easy to sort through.  We don’t head up to the bank that often, but when we do, everything we need is organized and easy to find.  Not only did the project look pretty, but it brought me GREAT peace of mind to know that every important piece of paper and photo is safely tucked away.


  1. Debbie Chaney on August 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! Just finished doing mine! Thanks for the idea!

  2. KoKo on February 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I LOVE your cover pages. How did you make them? I love the fonts, colors, etc. This is a great idea!

    • Kathryn on February 3, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      I took the school papers document from iHeartOrganizing and recreating parts of it in Adobe InDesign. Hazard of being a graphic designer!

  3. HDYDI: File/Store Digital Photos on November 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    […] may want the digital copies, too. Burn them onto an external hard drive and then store it off site. I update the files every few months and store the drive in our safety deposit box. I can’t even tell you how reassuring it is to have those digital images safely stored […]

  4. Cathy Cover on November 18, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    What do you do if someone wants to see the original of birth certificates such as sports… do you go each time to the bank and pull it out? This is a great idea and looking forward to doing this next week while off for holiday.

    • Kathryn on November 21, 2018 at 5:07 am

      I scan them in and use the JPG file, that way I don’t have to retrieve them from the box everytime. Works like a charm!

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