Thursday, March 22, 2012

Safety Deposit Box or Stored at Home: What We Keep Where and Why

It can be tough in this day and age to know where to keep your most precious of documents. Personally, I want certain things that I need on a regular basis accessible, but secure, and other items just plain secure. Still, my wife and I don’t want to have to be running back and forth between the bank each time we need certain documents. This means that we must make a call as to whether to keep particular items in a safety deposit box or at home.

Deciding which ones should be kept where though, isn’t always that simple.

Here’s how we make the call.

Social Security Cards, Birth Certificates and Passports
My wife and I haven’t traveled outside the country since our honeymoon cruise nearly six years ago, and with exception of needing our son’s birth certificate for him to fly with us on vacation before he turned two, I don’t think we’ve needed to produce our Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports for any reason since then.

We find it silly, and frankly somewhat dangerous to keep them at home, since if there were a break-in or fire, we’d possibly lose such documents and go through much more trouble replacing them than having to go to the bank once every blue moon should we need them. Therefore, we keep these documents in our safety deposit box.

Credit Reports
I run our credit reports several times a year just to make sure everything is in order and that there are no surprises lurking in wait somewhere within those pages of past and present creditors.

I tend to retain such documents at home, since for both me and my wife, they are just a bit bulky to go into our safety deposit box. However, I retain them devoid of any sort of identifying account numbers or other personal information such as Social Security numbers in the event that they should be compromised in some way.

Bond Certificates
While I know that I can get replacements for things like government savings bonds, I really don’t want to have to go to all the trouble; therefore, we keep these items in our safety deposit box. Considering my wife received a $50 bond for each birthday and Christmas holiday from the time she was born until she was about 15-years-old or so, you can see how just sliding the envelope full of these bonds into the safe deposit box and letting them sit there is much simpler than considering the result should there be a fire and I had to try to get the government to reissue 30 or more individual bonds. Plus, this way we don’t have to worry about theft either.

Backup Files
As we keep certain financial information and data on electronic files, it tends to make sense that we back up such files. While we don’t keep specific account numbers or personal information on these files, the general information we do retain is important for our tracking purposes and in assisting us to stay apprised of our current financial situation. We therefore keep backup copies (on flash drives since they are small) both at home and in our safety deposit box.

Extra Cash
We have a little extra cash both at home and in our safety deposit box. Having some extra spending money at home helps protect against unforeseen emergencies where banks might be closed, and saves time and trouble not having to run to the bank whenever we need a little extra spending money.

Having some cash in our safety deposit box protects against the banks being open in an emergency situation, but maybe not with the same ability to conduct cash transactions should their system be down or they’ve run out of cash.

Rare Coins
I don’t have a lot of rare coins, but I do have some rolls of silver coins. I tend to keep these items at home since they aren’t of extremely high value and they would take up a lot of room in our safety deposit box. If they were stolen, homeowner or renters insurance would likely cover the loss, and if there was a fire, they’d probably just melt into an easier to carry lump of silver.

Insurance Inventory
We keep our insurance inventory list and video in the safe deposit box. It wouldn’t do us much good if we kept them at home and they were ruined by a flood or burned up in a fire, would it?

I keep the family wills at home. There is no real identifying information on them and are replaceable should they be lost or stolen. Plus, they are kind of bulky documents and would take up valuable space inside the safety deposit box.


  1. This is something my family has considered. Thanks for the ideas!!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

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