My marriage and my birth certificates are around here someplace, in that old hatbox out in the garage. I need my Military DD-214 form to sign up for the Veteran's Tax-Free shopping site. I know I have it somewhere.

We all have important documents and when we need them, we really do need them. The experts advise us to keep them in a safety deposit box or in a fireproof box in our home in case of a fire.

Some people take digital photo of their important documents and email them to themselves. That's interesting if you keep the emails. Also, I am not very keen on my important documents being stored in the cloud in my email account. My Social Security Number, my mom's maiden name, I don't think so.

I know, how about putting my important documents in my personal digital library. I have total control; they will be easy to find whenever I need them, and I have no risk of anyone snooping around my hard drives unless I get hacked. Have I protected my hard drives?

What Data Do I Want in My Personal Digital Library?

What do I want to include? Here are some suggestions.

  • Important Documents
    • Birth certificates, Marriage certificates, etc.
    • Passports
  • Financial Records
    • Credit Card info
    • Tax records
  • Miscellaneous Data
    • Household Inventory
    • Big-ticket item receipts
    • Passwords
    • Important Dates list
    • Song list
    • Prescription list
  • Memorabilia
    • Old love letters
    • your kid's crayon drawings
    • Newspaper clippings
    • Ticket stubs

If you can digitize it, you can add it to your personal digital library. It's all about the stuff that is important to you, what works for you.

­čśÄ WordCutter: I have an expresso machine that automatically flashes a maintenance light every month to clean out the machine. It is a complicated "hold down these two buttons while simultaneously pressing the power button for 4 seconds" blah, blah blah. For some reason, I can never remember the sequence.

I put the expresso machines instruction page in my digital library and now just a couple of taps on my smartphone and I have the instructions right in front of me. Problem solved.

Make a List

OK, sharpen your pencil and start writing. You can use the suggested list above to get started but remember, it is all about what is important to you.

Whew! Now you have a list of all your important data.

Round It Up!

Yep, now you must round it all up. Filing cabinet, old hatbox in the garage, shoebox under the bed and don't forget those birth certificates at your parents' house.

Digitize, digitize, and digitize

You must digitize all this stuff. You can use your smartphone, a scanner or even take it down to the local stationary store to digitize all of it.


You have successfully rounded up all your important data and secured it all in your DATA folder.

In the next step, Step 15, you are going to establish your backup system. Pay close attention to the backup destination for your DATA. This is all highly personal stuff and you want to minimize any risk of it being exposed.