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September 06, 2011


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I purchased a small safe at the beginning of the year primarily to store precious papers (e.g., passport, house deed) and keep them safe in case of fire. This was a purchase I had been thinking about for a while and used part of my tax refund to buy the safe I finally selected. I am happy with my purchase and feel safer having fire protection for my documents.

We've had a small safe for 13 years and we are quite happy with it. We might want to upgrade to a larger one in a few years but the small one has suited us very well.

I have the same thoughts as you regarding safety deposit boxes. My grandma had one and I had to go to it all the time for her and it was a giant pain. My bank offers them free to me also and I have not taken them up on it either as it is just too inconvenient. However, I do need to invest in a safe though, as I don't have one of those yet either.

Thanks for the inspiration to get moving on getting a safe though!

My compliments on an interesting and comprehensive discussion.

The manufacturer states that the best placement is on the lowest floor due to weight concerns, and that the safe can resist "8 inches of water for 24 hours". In light of the recent flooding in various parts of the country, I wonder if the safe manufacturers are starting to rethink the placement recommendation, or considering a new product line with greater water resistance.

I have owned a Sentry safe since 1998 and am very satisfied with it. It is not that large but adequate for my needs. If I had purchased a larger one it would have been a real struggle getting it out of the car and into the the house. It helps a lot moving it if you have a "dolly". I like the fact that it has two locks, one is mechanical, the other is an electronic combination lock. I have only had to change the battery for the combination lock once since I have had it. You can set your own password and change it as often as you want and the safe also comes with a printed combination that will open it if you ever forget the one you have changed it to. The combination that will open it no matter what should be kept in an obscure, hidden, place that only you know about, and even if someone found it they would have no idea what the significance of the few digits on a small piece of paper was. I wouldn't recommend placing the safe in a damp location because dampness is not good for long term storage of paper. I also keep some silica gel capsules in mine and so far it has prevented the musty odor that you may otherwise get. Fortunately where I live the humidity seldom goes over 55%.

A colleague I used to work with spent some time years ago in the military in the old Panama Canal zone and the humidy was so high there that they used to each have a box with a light bulb burning in it just to keep their boots, money, and documents from getting mildew, so beware if you live in a very humid area without A/C.

I guess I'm still puzzled about what people are keeping in their home safes?

Maybe if you run a business where you need a place to keep large amounts of cash overnight? Or if you have really valuable jewelry that you also wear frequently....? Or if you live with people you can't trust? None of this applies to me.

I do have a small fire safe at home for a few documents, but it could easily be carried away--it's just in case of a fire. In it are copies of my families passports and birth certificates in it, copies of deeds, information regarding my insurance companies.

The actual passports are in my desk because we use them frequently and I want to know asap if they are stolen so I can replace them (easy if you have copies). The other actual documents (will, titles) are at the bank where they'll be safe against pretty much anything. My lawyer and my sister have keys to the deposit box and are instructed to access it in case I die--this is pretty easy to set up through the bank.

We use two home safes to store car titles, real estate deeds, financial information, birth/marriage/death certificates, emergency cash (not an emergency fund), 10 years of income tax returns, non-costume jewelry, old coins. We need to get a third safe for document storage; birth certificates, death certificates and income taxes have grown substantially in volume over the last decade.

For me, a safe wouldn't be much use if it could easily be removed by an intruder. Mine would be very difficult and time consuming to remove and even then would require the use of some tools. I keep all of our most important documents, passports, citizenship papers, birth & marriage certificates, trust deeds, DMV auto ownership certificates, my wife's most valuable jewelry, and some CDs and flash drives containing the photographs of all of our overseas trips since the age of digital cameras. There's no cash whatsoever in our safe. I am a big believer in money working for me and cash doesn't earn anything.

Thank you, FMF, for a very informative and timey report. For a couple of months now, I have been thinking of getting a good safe in which to house my valuables. You must have been reading my mind and gave me the information I was seeking. Thanks again.

We have a very old, very large safe where we store valuables. Thanks for the kick in the pants to put my important documents in it, it's something I've been meaning to do!

I don't own a safe, but I should probably get a small fire safe for important documents at least.

jeffbone: I would assume that if flooding is a big concern then a simpler water tight container inshould do the trick. I *think* the safes are 'water resistant' primarily so they can endure the water that firefighters spray on a burning house and I don't think enduring floods is the primary goal there. Also a rash of recent weather events doesn't really change anything. Floods or hurricanes happen every year and its not like theres any real change in the long term likelyhood that anyone will or won't get a flooded house.

Our reasons for keeping cash is emergencies. Having money at hand is priceless when accessing your accounts is too slow or impossible due to events beyond your control.

FYI, one way we deal with the water issue is by keeping $1 gold coins in our safe as back-up cash. Even if they get wet, they are good, and it would have to get very, very hot to melt them.

One other disadvantage of a safe deposit box is that if you die, it can't be opened without a court order. At least in New York State.

Another disadvantage that few people are aware of in regards to safety deposit boxes is that the terms give the government the right to get into your box and take its contents such as stock certificates,bonds and currency in the event of a declared "emergency" that they get to declare.

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