I find that people, when looking for important documents (warranties, birth certificates, medical record, etc.), usually wind up spending lots of time on this task, and worse, they actually cannot find the needed document. I know how frustrating this can be for anybody. The key is to establish and maintain good record keeping moving forward. I have listed some suggestions below to maintain either hard copies or electronic copies.

If you would like to go paperless, purchasing a good scanner, like ScanSnap, is a wise investment. Just remember to save your files in appropriately labeled folders (not just dropped into “Documents”) so you will be able to retrieve these files easily.
Here are some ways to improve your record keeping:
Vital Docs
should be in a file folder in your file cabinet or better yet, a fireproof box. They also should be scanned andsaved on a USB drive and on a secure cloud server (in case of their accidental hard copy destruction).
Examples of these would be:
  •             Birth certificates
  •             Marriage certificates
  •             Divorce Settlements
  •             School Transcripts
  •             Passports
  •             Jury duty records
Remembering Passwords and User names seems to be one of the hardest tasks to keep up with these days. They should all be kept together in one location. Here are some suggestions to keep passwords together and safe:
  • Small address book that can be kept in a lockeddrawer
     (writing with encrypted password, such as: Livingroom33 would be “Lvgrm3”)
  • Software apps like Password1 or PasswordBox
  • Google Doc spreadsheet that is password protected with one password
  • Electronic Address/Contacts on computer and/or smart phone with encrypted passwords (see “Livingroom33” example above)
Home Appliances (washer/dryer, TV, lawn mower, hot water heater etc) Records/Repairs are best stored in a 3-ring binder for easy retrieval. Use tab divider to separate categories such as “kitchen”, “home appliances”, “electronic gadgets”, “sports equipment”, “outdoor equipment”. You could also store these records in a big, sturdy plastic envelope. (Good records to have when thinking about selling your home.)
I also recommend keeping service repair records in this binder as well.
Alternatively, these records can be scanned and stored electronically. Many manuals are available as pdf files online.
  •             Manuals
  •             Warranties
  •             Receipts of purchase
  •             Repairs and Maintenance Records
Car Maintenance Records should be maintained even if you go to your original dealership for car maintenance. Keeping these records is good so that: you keep on a schedule of maintenance; you have proof of repairs if there is a dispute with manufacturer or repair shop; you have great maintenance records if you would like to sell your vehicle.
You should maintain Health Records simply because all your health care providers are not necessarily in the same system. (Of course, I believe that this should be happening so all of your providers get a big picture of your health and your health history, but that is not happening currently.) You need to be your own health care advocate and one way in which to do this is having a good idea of your health history. I recommend writing a brief description of a doctor (dentist, nature-path) visit using an ordinary stenographer’s notebook or binder and attaching test and lab results. Please remember to date each entry. A health log should be started for each member of the family. Alternatively, you could create a spreadsheet with all the info and scan in test and lab results to accompany the health info. Store this info on your computer and a back-up location.
Another motivation: usually there is a sizable fee to retrieve and reprint your health care records from many hospitals and doctors’ offices.
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