• Cheryl Libutti

Assembling a Grab and Go Binder.

Watching the news this fall was a great reminder of the importance of being prepared: the hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and disasters created by man were scary and heartbreaking to watch unfold.

I am kind of a preparedness junkie and have been learning all I can about supplies to have on hand, food, tools, clothing, plans, etc that would keep my family better able to weather a short or long term emergency. I'm putting this all together in hopes of doing a nice Emergency Preparedness series of posts in September, which is the CDC's Emergency Preparedness month.

In the meantime, the easiest thing for me to start with was making a Grab and Go Binder. This binder contains all the official information needed to take with me in a hurry and keep safe. It covers identification, financial paperwork, auto, home and legal documents. Luckily, I had most of these assembled in a firesafe in my home, but they were kind of jumbled up and in a bunch of worn out envelopes.

I gathered my supplies, which I had on hand: a binder, page protectors, and some rainbow-colored dividers left over from one of my daughter's classes last year. (After I put all of this together, Jenna informed me that I accidentally used a binder she needs for a class later in the year. Oops.)

I emptied out my firesafe for the first time in probably over 7 years and started sorting like items together.

I found lots of interesting stuff that I could get rid of, like the gas line schematic for the house we sold in 2010. Old mortgages, duplicate papers, old legal papers that have since been updated and replaced.

I put each item in a page protectors and sorted them by category: identification (social security cards, birth certificates), marriage certificates, baptism certificates, legal papers of ours, legal papers of others (older family members that we are serving as POA/executor), home documents, auto titles and life insurance. The binder is full, but it all fit in nicely.

Now my favorite part: the labeling!

I even made money on the deal by finding $0.55 in the bottom of the firesafe. How that got in there, I'll never know.

Here is a side view of my finished binder!

I am so happy to have this all together, safely arranged and stored and ready to grab if I ever had to leave. Labeling these papers and having them all in one spot makes them easy to access for non-emergency reasons as well: My daughter recently got her driving permit and needed to bring her Social Security card with her to DMV. We needed our Baptism certificates to serve as godparents of my nephew this past spring. We bought a car this summer and got a new title. It's great to know where these papers are and where they belong.

I ended up placing this binder back in my firesafe. I chose to keep our passports separately in a small plastic bag to reduce the bulk in the binder. Some bigger insurance folders also didn't fit in my page protectors, so they are in the bottom of the safe. I made a master contents list of what was in the safe for viewing when I am looking for something specific.

I really recommend putting one of these together at your own home. The hardest part by far is gathering all of the items you want to include... but it's worth the effort.

Now here's my funny addendum to this project: as I got to the bottom of my papers, I found two Certificates of Deposit from 2007 that I frankly don't remember buying nor cashing in. They are for a significant amount of money but unfortunately are from a bank we no longer use and they have no records available to say whether they were cashed in... the computer records don't go back that far. So after many hours on the phone, I had to send my information to the archives of this bank to see what the history of these CD's is, including when they were cashed in, if ever.

I personally have a 100% rate of finding money for clients when we go through paperwork. I'm hoping the same will happen here, but it may be that my $0.55 is what keeps my streak alive!

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