Adulting 101: 14 Documents You Should Safely Manage for Your Home
Becoming a homeowner requires a new level of responsibility for yourself and this major asset you have acquired. Here are 13 documents you need to safely store, upkeep, and manage for your home.
1. Personal Identification
You need a secure location in your home for all your personal records. Your birth certificate, social security number, driver’s license, passport, insurance documents, bank accounts, credit card info, and all other forms of ID should be safe and easily accessible. If you have a spouse and/or children, be sure their documents are here as well.
2. Property Records
This should go without saying…but all property records should be easily accessible. This includes the title, deed, and contracts. Do not get rid of or destroy these for any reason.
3. Mortgage Statements
Along with property records, you need to keep a copy of the original agreement with your financial lender as well as any mortgage statements/receipts of payment. Even after you pay off your mortgage you will want to hold onto these. Keep them organized by date, with the most recent statements or payments most easily accessible.
4. Record of Utilities
As a homeowner, you use a lot of utilities. Sewage, gas, electric, water, trash and recycling, internet, cable, and more. Keep a folder with each of these services as well as invoices and receipts to be sure you’re never falling behind on payments.
5. Insurance Statements
Keep your house insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, car insurance, and other other insurances you may have filed away. You’ll want to keep statements, new cards, and the original plan details.
6. Tax Records
Now that you are a homeowner, your tax records are interconnected with your home. You should have been keeping your tax records long before now, but at this point you’ll need to be even more on top of things. Keep records back to the past 7 years, and be detailed. Be sure local, state, and federal taxes are included here – and keep copies of any checks or payments received for tax returns.
If you work from home and claim a portion of your home as an office, you will want to save any receipt that could be related to that expense. For most people, however, it’s only important to save receipts for big ticket items (a new fridge, new oven, new windows, etc.) or for items that you may want to return. When in doubt, save the receipt and file it away.
This also goes mainly for big ticket items or appliances. Keep any and all warranties (preferably with their receipts) – and be sure to take care of any necessary “activation” calls before filing them away.
If you ever hire a contractor or service, keep your copy of the contract. No matter how big or small the job is – it’s important to have these on hand so you can remember who you hired for what and in case any issues arise in the future.
10. Record of Maintenance and Improvement
This is something many people forget to do. Keep a running log of ongoing maintenance (check out our guide here for help!), repairs, and home improvement projects. Even if you simply upgrade the faucet – write it down. This record of improvements may help you if you ever sell your home or refinance it.
11. Your “Design Portfolio”
All of our homes should have a “design portfolio” of sorts. This is where you keep track of the exact color paint you chose for your walls (and which store you bought it from), the company who provided your new roof and which style shingles you chose, the brand and style of your tile, the color grout you have in your bathroom…you get the point.
Any time you make a decision about what color, style, texture, or brand to use for a home project – keep this information in a folder or binder so you can go back to it in the future. Trust us, you don’t want to be touching up a nick in the wall and have no idea where you bought the original paint or exactly which shade of white it is.
Anytime you buy a new appliance, whether it be a toaster or a flat screen TV – keep the manual! You may not need it today, but you never know when you’ll run into issues with your new piece of technology and need to reference the manual. Rather than sit on hold for 12 hours waiting for help, keep these guides for future use.
13. Medical Records
Along with your personal information, you should keep your medical records (as well as bills, invoices, and receipts) organized and filed away. Though this doesn’t pertain directly to your home, this data needs to be well sorted and easy to find in case of emergency. If you have a will or a DNR, you may want to include it here.
14. Pay Stubs
Keep your pay stubs! This will come in handy if you need to prove income in the future (think refinancing or major purchases).
Get a good filing cabinet to tuck away where you can categorize and file these documents in an organized fashion. If you have most of these documents digitally, you can organize them on a cloud service like DropBox to remove the clutter. If you decide to store these docs digitally, be sure that you are maintaining them regularly. Doing so will ensure you’re on top of things should the time come for you to refinance, sell, or if you find yourself in financial difficulty.