Should You Bother With A Safety Deposit Box?
How many of you have a safety deposit box?
I do, and I don’t even know how much I pay for it. How bad is that? As for documents in it, I have a copy of the title of my house, (which is kind of pointless, since copies are easily accessible via the internet, at least here in Alberta) as well as a copy of my will. I don’t have any jewels, or any rare baseball cards, or anything cool like that. All I have are copies of documents that wouldn’t really be that hard to replace if I ever lost them. I’m pretty sure a will is still valid if you make a bajillion photocopies of it.
I’m pretty sure I pay $39 a year for the privilege of having this box. From my crack research, (read: asking someone who works at a bank) I think I’m getting off pretty easy. If you rent a safety deposit box from another bank, you can easily end up paying double what I do – and that’s just for one of the little ones. Those are so tiny that calling them a safety deposit box is almost misleading.
This begs the question: should you even bother with a safety deposit box?
Use a Safe Instead of a Safety Deposit Box
These days, there are all sorts of companies that will sell you either a small sized safe that sits on the ground, or a wall mounted unit. I took a quick look on eBay, and there were a dozen sellers just waiting to sell you a decent safe for around $100. Obviously, these aren’t the huge safes they used to make back in the day. They’re smaller, not a whole lot bigger than a safety deposit box.
But, if all you’re doing is keeping important documents in it, size isn’t important. Security is a bit of an issue, but most come equipped to be bolted to the floor, meaning a prospective crook is going to have some work to do before they can steal it. Since most crooks don’t want to linger around your house any longer than they have to, they’ll just steal your TV instead.
Most safes are fire resistant, so your important documents will be fine if the rest of your house burns down. However, not all safes are water resistant. Meaning, if there’s a fire, your documents may not get burned, but they may get waterlogged from the water being sprayed on the fire. If you do end up buying a safe, keep that in mind.
As for your jewels and whatnot, your home safe can keep them safely locked up when you’re not using them. As long as your safe is somewhat hidden in a dark corner and you don’t tell your friends about it, I don’t think you have too much to worry about. Although, if you enough in jewels to equip a princess, a safety deposit box may not be a bad idea.
Just Keep Copies of Important Documents Somewhere Else
If you’re anything like me, you have nothing really cool in your safety deposit box. It’s just a bunch of papers. It’s worth nothing to anyone except me (and I guess my heirs).
Like I mentioned earlier, a copy of your will is still a valid copy. So, if you’re scared of losing your will or other important documents, why not just make copies of them and give them to people you trust to hold onto? You’ll still keep the original copy, and if something ever happens, you have the security of knowing copies of everything important are just as far as your trusted friend’s house or your parents’ house.
Even if you can find a safety deposit box for $40 a year, that means you’re paying $400 per decade. That’s a lot to keep a bunch of documents.
Other Cons to Safety Deposit Boxes
A safety deposit box can be tax deductible, but only if you use it to store your investment certificates. Considering most of us don’t hold physical stock and bond certificates anymore, chances are you’re not going to be able to deduct the expense.
Also, having a safety deposit box means you can’t access your important documents unless the bank is open. Imagine going to the airport at 7 at night, being nice and early for your 10pm flight. Once you arrive, you remember your passport is in your safety deposit box. You would have been able to go home and get your passport if it was in your home safe, but now you’re stuck waiting until the bank opens in the morning.
After writing this post, I’m seriously considering punting my safety deposit box. I don’t even know what the thing costs. They take the fee out of my bank account once per year, and I never miss it. The stuff I’m storing in there could easily be stored somewhere else.
Readers, what do you think of safety deposit boxes? Are you willing to pay the fee to keep your valuables safe?