Where To Keep Your Important Financial Records

Don't keep birth certificates, deeds, and other essential paperwork where they could be destroyed or lost.


We all have financial records, whether they're pay stubs, tax returns, or receipts that we're using for tax write-offs. Although many of us are now using personal finance software, there still isn't a one-stop solution to track all your finances.

[In pictures: 10 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2011.]

So, should you use online storage, or just keep hard copies? There are no easy answers, but here are a few options to keep in mind:

Three Ways Store Your Documents: 

Online Storage: You could store your information on "the cloud" which would be servers located miles away from your home, but are you willing to trust that the data doesn't get hacked or that their servers don't go down? Although it's incredibly convenient to pull up your financial records from any computer with an internet connection, you're also going to be sacrificing the peace of mind that comes with keeping hard copies.

Keeping Hard Copies: Although it's not exactly convenient hard copies are still a viable option for storing your financial records. I still keep hard copies for the majority of my financial documents simply as a backup and because they're readily available if I need them. The difficulty comes when you're not in the same location as your records because you're traveling for an extended period of time. You can't exactly bring your financial records along with you on a long trip away from home.

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Storing on Your Own Hard Drive: A third option would be to store your financial records on your own hard drive. With a lot of my financial documents I scan them into PDF format and then load them into my external hard drive. That way I know they're backed up just in case I lose my hard copies through theft or fire. I then place a password on my hard drive so that it can't be easily hacked in the event that my hard drive is stolen.

Which Strategy Works Best?

I use a combination of all three that I've listed above simply because it allows me ease of access no matter where I am. It is a bit more work to manually load and scan your documents into a hard drive and upload them to your cloud storage, but it offers piece of mind that your financial records are located in three different storage options that are completely independent of each other.

How do you store your financial records? Do you trust saving your financial information on the cloud, or do you keep it mostly in hard copy?

Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance Blog, which covers a wide range of personal finance  and investing topics, with features that include reviews, comparison guides, and Q&A sections.