This is a how-to post, so I’m going to skip the prose and start explaining how I tamed the paper tiger, cleared my mind, and became more efficient by creating what I call our Life Notebook. It is simply a three-ring binder that holds all of our family’s important personal, household, and financial information in one convenient place.
If you’re like most people, you have random pieces of information scattered hither and yon ~ post-it notes, bulletin boards, file folders, computer files, your wallet, glove compartment, home office, work office, and your cluttered mind. I promise you’re going to feel great when you get it all in one place!
HOW TO SET UP YOUR LIFE NOTEBOOK ~
- a three-ring binder (1/2″ will probably do)
- computer/notebook paper
- plastic sleeves
- index tabs
- your computer (You could hand-write it, if you prefer.)
- your information
- The information in each of the bulleted sections below should be written/typed on a separate page. Adjust the contents to reflect your your life.
- This process can take some time. I suggest setting up your entire notebook with the information you have on hand. Leave blanks and go back as you gather the missing information.
- When you’re finished, print out each page, slip it into a plastic sleeve, and put it in the binder. Label and place the index tabs for quick reference.
- Once you’re done, shred all of those random slips of paper and files. You’ll be amazed how much clutter will disappear!
- Pencil in updated/changed information as needed. About every six months, make the changes on your computer and print out a fresh copy.
SUGGESTED CONTENTS OF YOUR LIFE NOTEBOOK:
PERSONAL & FAMILY INFORMATION:
- Immediate Family Contact Information – home and work addresses, phone numbers, and emails
- Important Family Information – social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birthdays
- Extended Family Birthday and Anniversary Calendar – listed by month
- Bank Accounts – name of bank, account and routing numbers, website address, logins, password
- Credit Cards – account number, security code, customer service number, online address, logins, password
- List of Assets/Debts – what you own, what you owe
- Charitable Giving Commitments – church, organizations, sponsored children
- Monthly Budget
- Mortgage Information – holder, account number, monthly payment, interest rate, principal/interest/escrow amounts
- Homeowner’s Insurance Policy – company/agent, phone number, account number
- Home Utilities/Services – (cell phone, electricity, gas, water, garbage, sewer, internet, cable) – company, account holder, account number, phone number, monthly payment, online addresses, logins, passwords
- Household Inventory – list of major furniture, appliances, electronics, valuable collections, china, silver, artwork
- Vehicles – year/make/model, VIN number, location of title, loan holder, account number, monthly payment
- Insurance – name of company/agent, address, phone number, policy number, deductible
- Retirement Plans – source, address, phone number, online address, user name, password, security phrase, member ID, overview of benefits, beneficiaries
- Social Security – http://www.ssa.gov, user name, passwords, estimated benefits
- Health Insurance – provider, phone number, subscriber, identification numbers/group numbers
- Health Care Providers – name, specialty, address, phone number
- Health Records – blood type, medications, procedures with dates, significant diagnoses
- Life Insurance Policies – name, agent, address, phone number, amount, beneficiaries
- Pet – breed, birthday, breeder/sire/dam, microchip #, date of purchase/adoption
- Veterinarian – name, address, phone number
LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Original documents are kept at attorney’s office.
- Name of personal attorney, address, phone number
- Copies of the following legal documents – POA, Health Care Representative, Living Will, Last Will and Testament
FIRESAFE LOCKBOX CONTENTS: This is a suggested list of the documents you should keep in a personal firesafe lockbox. You can purchase one at an office supply or big box store for less than $25. In an emergency, the box is easy to grab and go. I put everything in sturdy document sleeves.
- Social Security Cards
- Voter Registration cards
- Copy of Driver’s Licenses
- Copy of Auto Insurance Cards
- Copy of Health Insurance Cards
- Copy of Credit Cards
- Vehicle Titles
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Life Insurance Policies
- Copy of Legal Documents (POA, Health Care Representative, Living Will, Last Will and Testament)
WHERE TO KEEP YOUR LIFE NOTEBOOK & FIRESAFE BOX: Obviously, they contain confidential information. Here are my suggestions:
- Keep the original copy on your computer.
- Print a copy for your Life Notebook. Keep the notebook somewhere secure, but easily accessible. Make sure your significant other knows where it is located. List the computer/file name on the front of the binder.
- Print a second copy to put in your firesafe box. Tell your significant others (partner, parents, adult children) where this is located and what it contains.
- If you have a smartphone, email yourself the document so you have it with you all the time.
Our modern lives can get messy and overwhelming, but we can simplify things. I hope you experience the peace of mind I felt once I set up our Life Notebook. Let me know how it works out for you, or if you have questions.
Getting organized takes some work, but the results are so lovely. Please come back on Wednesday when we tackle kitchen clutter!
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Think On These Things ~ Alicia