I went to turn on my computer yesterday and was greeted by a black screen and about as much response as I get from girls I talk to at the beach My laptop died, sad day, but I’m over it. I wasn’t too concerned, it’s only a laptop, there are internet cafes and plenty of ways to access the internet (I’m currently sitting at the library using up my free 1 hour of internet time), but what I was wondering was, did I save all my financial records, or was there anything I absolutely need on the computer that I can’t get back?
What Financial Records do we Need?
For taxes we need our W2′s from previous employers, these are often in paper form and sent via the mail (at least in my experience) so you should have a hard copy. You can always call them and get another copy as well.
Bank statements, retirement funds, and other investments often send you paper statements in the mail either monthly or quarterly, unless you’ve opted out. Even if you opt out then you’ll be able to access your information via the internet on their websites, where you can upload pdf versions of previous statements to print out.
Net worth statements, cash flow statements, and your personal balance sheet are the things that are probably not backed up online. If you’re updating your net worth and balance sheet monthly or quarterly it’s most likely via an excel statement, or program that isn’t online based. This was the case for me, so I’m out my previous records. It’s not too rough for me since my net worth is very tiny at the moment and easy to calculate, and as a recent college grad it doesn’t go back too far. However, if you have 10-20 years or records on your computer, it could be a hit below the belt.
You may also want copies of your letters of recommendation, resumes, cover letters, business plans, and anything else that goes into your entreprenurial endevours. Depending on what you’re working on, you may cry for several hours once your computer crashes. I’m still in denial, so have yet to cry since I lost quite a few hours of work that wasn’t backed up!
Storing Your Financial Records
In my mind there are two options for storing your financial records (If you know of more options please feel free to add them in the comments below). You could choose one, or be super safe and do both. The first would be saving your information on hardware you have in your presence, such as a USB flash drive or via an external hard drive. This comes in handy because you can control where your information is stored and feel in control. However, you could lose your flash drive or have it stolen, which would be the furthest thing from cool.
The second would be what’s called “cloud storage.” I’m a big fan or remote server storage, or being “in the cloud” that is, uploading information to a server somewhere else. You don’t have to worry about losing your physical hardware, and you can access the information anywhere with an internet connection. I like to use Amazon S3 Storage because they only charge for the amount you use and it’s minimal. I pay less than $2 a month to store a huge amount of information on their servers, so I’m a pretty darn happy customer.
So I suppose having a computer really isn’t all that important to your financial record keeping. It sure makes my life easier, but isn’t a necessity. I would recommend looking into “cloud storage” as it’s a great way to be mobile and still access your important files. It’ll probably be about 2 weeks before I get another computer so I apologize for longer delay times as I’m only able to run to internet cafes to check emails and repond to posts in the upcoming weeks.
How do you like to store your financial records and information?
Do you keep paper copies of everything, or do you trust technology?
Would you like to send me a new laptop?