Financial Focus/Protect Your Financial Records From Stormy Weather

A hurricane or tornado is headed your way. What should you do? Obviously, you and your family need to head for safety. What should you take with you? There are many possibilities, but you should give strong consideration to protecting your financial records. If they get lost or destroyed, it could mean countless headaches for you.
Of course, the best time to think about preserving your financial records is well ahead of any emergency situation. By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure that your vital financial records and documents will never get washed out, burned up or blown away.
Here are a few ďpreservationĒ suggestions: Know where you keep your records and documents. Keep a file of all your brokerage statements, insurance policies, annuity contracts, bank accounts, financial planning materials and any other financial paperwork you may have. If you know exactly where everything is - and you keep it all in one easily accessible location - you wonít have to scramble around for your papers when you have to leave in a hurry.
Minimize the papers you keep. When it comes to collecting paperwork, we all have different tendencies. If youíre a saver, then you might get nervous if you donít hold on to every scrap of paper, every letter, every statement. But if youíre a ďpurger,Ē then you might look at something once, and then toss it. In terms of maintaining your financial records, itís good to be somewhere in between. Save just those documents that you feel are really essential, and get rid of the rest. Too much clutter will make it hard for you to grab the things you need in an emergency.
Computerize as much as you can. Whenever itís possible, put your important financial information on your personal computer. If youíve got the equipment and the know-how to scan documents into your computer, thatís great. Even if you donít, you can do something as simple as creating a document and typing in all your important financial information. However you enter your financial information on your computer, be sure to back it up on a diskette or a CD. Both are extremely portable, so they wonít slow you down when you need to move fast.
Donít keep everything in the house. If you have particularly important documents, such as your will or your living trust arrangements, you may want to consider keeping them in a safe deposit box in a bank. Your attorney or accountant probably has copies of these documents, but it is always best to err on the safe side.
By taking these few simple steps, you can avoid having a natural disaster destroy your personal ďpaper trail.Ē However, if worse comes to worse and you canít get your documents out of harmís way, there is still no need for panic. Sooner or later, you could probably replace just about everything that is lost. So pay the most attention to preserving whatís truly irreplaceable - the lives of you and your family.
This article was submitted by local financial representatives of Edward Jones.