By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.
Financial fitness is one of the Seven Foundations of Health. For me, this means taking personal responsibility to provide for my loved ones and myself.
One big hole in my financial fitness has been the availability of emergency cash on hand, and the protection of important financial and family documents. Natural disasters, theft, and other damaging situations happen – and because of that, I have wanted to buy a home safe for years. After researching home safes and the best practices for setting one up, I’m finally ready.
I will be safeguarding emergency cash and important records from the three perils of fire, water, and theft. Choosing and Using a Home Safe provides information about selecting the perfect safe for you.
Emergency cash, family records, perishable keepsakes, and financial records are what I hope to protect in my home safe.
I am planning to keep enough cash to cover six months of our regular household expenses. I’m going to keep half of our rainy-day cash in one hundred dollar bills and half in twenties. To determine the space needed, I made a research fieldtrip to my local bank. One thousand bills make a stack 5 and ¾ inches high. If you wanted to keep $20,000 in twenty dollar bills, your stack would be 5 and ¾ inches high. $50,000 in hundred dollar bills would be just less than 3 inches high.
My Family Records Checklist:
- birth certificates
- marriage license
- last will and testament
- family health records and vaccination histories
- home inventory
- safe deposit box inventory and key
- health and medical directives
- estate planning documents
- perishable personal keepsakes
My Financial Records Checklist:
- credit card information
- banking and investment accounts
- insurance policies (life, health care, home owner, and vehicle)
- loan information
- password list
- real estate settlement statements or certificates of title
- motor vehicle sales contracts or certificates of title
- home warranty
- stock certificates
Every household must work out their own records management plan, but Managing Household Records offers some general guidelines that helped me.
Regarding the three perils of fire, water, and theft, I chose a safe rated not to exceed 250 degrees, which is well below the temperature where paper will burn. Our safe has a backlit dual electronic lock with key, pry-resistant hinge bar and 6 large, 1-inch bolts to protect against theft. The website says the safe is water proof, meaning it can be completely submerged in water and still keep the contents dry. But, the manufacturer’s specifications confirm it’s only water resistant for protection in water up to 8 inches deep for 24 hours.
After identifying and organizing all our records, I determined we needed a 2.0 cubic foot safe. It has multi-position file organizers for flexible storage and organization, plus a key rack and storage on the door. It weighs 138.2 pounds providing a further theft deterrent. Plus, there is an option to bolt it to the floor, although this would impact its water resistance. My wife and I have decided we are more concerned about theft than water damage, so we’ll be bolting it to the floor.
While there is no such thing as a perfect solution, this physical vault will provide my family with peace of mind, as well as on-site protection of our important documents and emergency cash. I plan to share a follow-up post in the future with information about protecting important documents with an online virtual vault.
The end of one year and beginning of another is a perfect time for a project like this. I am looking forward to organizing all of my family’s documents and helping protect our financial fitness in 2015!
I purchased my safe using our Amazon Prime membership and received FREE Two-Day Shipping. Click the image below to see the home safe I purchased and to shop for your own.
Image via Death to the Stock Photo
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