Things you need to do NOW

Get a firesafe for your house that you can move in a hurry.This is pretty straightforward, but it’s not just for the regular reasons. It forces you to go through your important stuff and limit it to the “I can’t live without this” stuff. Living in earthquake country, I prefer a portable safe (though a little less secure) because we never know if we will be able to get back into the house. This is also true in flood and fire prone areas. It all comes down to which you fear most – mother nature or the bad guys.If you are really paranoid, you could get a really big one that bolts to the house and another smaller one that fits inside it with the “grab and go” stuff. That would solve both issues (mother nature and bad guys) but adds expense and complexity. Adding complexity means that you are less likely to actually to do it. That’s bad.Make sure that your firesafe is also rated for water resistance. You know that’s probably coming after the fire, right? It would be a bummer to have your firesafe withstand the onslaught of the heat and fire, only to have the contents destroyed by the water that’s used to save it.Things to keep in firesafe

  • Car titles
  • Cash (limited)
  • CD’s of important pictures,
  • Birth Certificates
  • Kid vaccination records
  • insurance docs
  • USB thumb drive with encrypted and password protected account and password information on it. I use KeePass, which is Open Source, free, and excellent.
  • Copy of wills, trusts, and medical powers of attorney

Some of this stuff could be in a safe deposit box, but there may be times when safe deposit box may not be available at the same time your house isn’t. Like aforementioned earthquakes and floods and fires and other large scale disasters.Get a shredderUsing a shredder can be fun it it’s own odd way, but it also lets you be free of more things than you imagine. Once it’s shredded, it is gone out of your life. There is no going back, and it is no longer worth your time to worry about it. Make sure it cross-cuts into little pieces rather than into anything that looks like strips. Strips can be re-assembled pretty easily. One that handles CD / DVD media and credit cards is nice, too. But you can’t dump that stuff in the recycle bin with the paper.If you have a large amount of history that has to be shredded, include that in your shredder purchasing decisions. Thinking that history is just a one time thing means that you may never get it all shredded. This is because you will kill your shredder or it will just take too darn long to do and you never complete the history portion of the shredding project. I know. Been there. I used 2 shredders to get through our history – luckily, Anne had a shredder, and I had one also. The big shredder would overheat and then I would switch to the little one. When that little one overheated, the big one had cooled down enough to do some more. There were times when both shredders were overheated. I easily shredded more in the history portion than I will in the next 10 years or normal use, maybe 15 years. There were extenuating circumstances for the amount of history I had to shred, but you get the point. Getting too small a shredder could be more of a mistake than getting too big a shredder.Placement of shredder is important. It should be right next to where you do your bills and sort your mail. We use the dining room table for this, so one of the shredders lives in the dining room. Silly from an interior design pespective, but exactly correct for the way we actually live. There is no longer a pile for stuff to be shredded. Once I got through the history, there was no longer a need for the pile. It goes from table to shredder directly. Ot at least that’s the plan. I’m pretty good at that, but other parties involved may not be. But I take care of it quickly so it doesn’t build up. Things I shred:

  • All paid standard monthly bills and statements. Once I am done with it, it’s confetti.
  • Paycheck stubs (WAY too much information to leave lying around)
  • Those horrendous 0% interest for 6 months checks from your credit card company (evil, evil, evil.)
  • Almost anything that came in the mail and has my name and some other number of any sort – even if made up by the sender.
  • Old checks and deposit slips.
  • Other junk mail to add bulk and pieces. This makes it harder to reassemble because not everything is important. I like to shred at least as much junk as real stuff.
  • Anything Anne needs me to.

The ability to let go and shred something is more emotional that one might think. Do you fear not having the item versus the bad guys versus what it takes to manage all that paper? It can be a strange little dance. You have to come to terms with it. That’s why I am the shredder in the house. Get a safety deposit boxThis is the place to keep the heirloom stuff, more documents that you really only need access to every so many number of years. I actually don’t have one, but it is because I feel better about having access to the firesafe. That’s a crazy thing, I agree, and that’s why I am adding safety deposit box to the list. You either have to get one or come to terms about not getting one. I am a jerk and a hypocrite for not doing it, but I realize this.Getting the firesafe and shredder is one trip to your local big office supply store, or Costco or even Walmart or Amazon. Not so much money ($100 to 200) should do it. The safe deposit box is a call to the local bank to see if they have any there and then a trip down there, some paperwork and some fees. Painful.Why do this?All of this will help you feel a little more in control and a little less crazy because you know you have done something that makes sense. You can’t control the big bad world, but you can put a little bit of your own life together. That’s just as important as any level of protection you are getting from the firesafe, shredder and safe deposit box.