As a rising college senior, I am counting the days until I am truly on my own. While I have definitely made steps to become more self-sufficient, it's way too easy to make a call home when I just can’t remember my blood type or (gasp!) social security number. The adulting process has been ongoing, difficult at times, and downright frustrating. I recently saw a TikTok of a girl screaming in her car that to be a human requires a whole lot of paperwork, and I had never felt more seen.
I am currently working on organizing all of my important papers with a system that is simple, easy to remember, and works for me. I am organizing them in Savor’s Folio Document Organizer, and the pre-made labels have helped a ton in guiding me in what papers and documents I should be holding on to. And while so many things are digitized, as I learned when trying to get a beach permit last summer, sometimes there's no replacement for the physical document. Since it can be hard to know what is important to keep and what can be chucked in the recycle, I compiled a list of things to keep on hand in my important papers file. I hope it can help someone on their journey to self sufficiency, no matter what stage (I am guessing this thing takes a while).
1. Birth Certificate / Adoption Papers
Even I knew to keep this one! Keep a copy of your birth certificate in your box – it is required for Social Security, Medicaid, getting a driver’s license, getting a marriage license, applying for schools, and more.
2. Marriage License and/or Divorce Papers
A marriage certificate is required when you are to change your marital status for insurance, social security, banking, or filing jointly for taxes. This includes prenuptial agreements, marriage licenses, any child support agreements, etc.
3. Living Will
While no-one wants to think about the possibility of a terrible illness or accident, a living will can help your loved ones know how best to fulfill your wishes if the worst does happen. It's a document that specifies how you would like to be treated if unable to take care of yourself, and it should be stored with the rest of your important documents.
4. Will and Testament
Again, no one wants to think of the unthinkable. As hard as it is, you owe it to your loved ones to be prepared for it. Keep a copy of your will and testament in your Folio.
5. Government Benefits
If you receive government benefits be sure to keep your documents and records safe and in one place! I know I wasn't the only one scurrying to track down papers when applying for Covid benefits like PPP or expanded unemployment.
6. Social Security Card
I am guilty of not memorizing my social security number. A sin, I know! But now that it's in my Folio, I know it will be in easy reach the next time I need to fill out a W-9.
7. Passport/Green Card
Ever turn your house upside down searching for your passport as you're on your way to the airport and then missed your flight? Asking for a friend.
9. Vehicle ownership and registration papers
As the proud owner of a dirty but beautiful Toyota RAV4, I will be keeping my ownership and registration papers in my Folio Document Organizer to keep them safe. Naturally, I will be keeping a copy of both in my car as well!
10. ID/Drivers License
This one is another no-brainer. A copy of your ID or Drivers License is a must. Among other uses, it's needed to apply for a passport. Make sure to have the front and the back copied.
11. Previous Year's Tax Returns
I learned this one the hard way. I will be keeping a copy of last year’s tax returns to make future tax returns easier on myself.
12. Bank Statements
Keeping my bank statements helps when preparing to pay taxes, and it can help me confirm my income and track deductible expenses. While I have all my banking information online, I have a printed copy in my Folio just in case.
13. Utility Bills
This seems random, but f you've ever tried to get a town beach pass or a Covid vaccination, you quickly realize how important these bills can be as proof of residency in your city or state.
14. Copy of Lease or Mortgage Documents
A copy of my lease agreement is safe in my Folio. Any time I have a question about my apartment, (i.e. are we really allowed on the roof?), I consult my lease and usually find an answer.
Honorable Mention: Pet Records
I need to include an honorable mention category. As a new puppy owner, I have been swamped by vet records, immunization schedules, and registration paperwork. I have been organizing it in Savor's Pet Keepsake Box, a box I use specifically for keeping my dog's things in order. So while it is in a Vault organizer, rather than a Folio, I feel comfortable knowing these key pet items organized and in a safe place.
While I am still making my way through trials and growing pains, having all of my important documents in one place makes me feel much more put together and at ease. I may still be living at home, but at least it shows my parents I'm still adulting. At least somewhat.
What types of records do you guys hold on to? Am I missing anything? Let me know in the comments below!