Safe Deposit Boxes: Still Useful in a Digital Age


A friend of mine told me safe deposit boxes are only for spies and grandparents.  He jokingly described a mysterious world of fake passports and dead-letter drops, then contrasted it with the ho-hum of stored wills and tax documents.  “Why would I need one?” he said, citing how he lives almost paperless and backs up his digital documents via a cloud service.  Here was my answer.

Even in today’s paperless world, not everything is digital.  We can’t keep car titles, passports, birth certificates or social security cards in a cloud.  And with today’s threat of identity theft, it’s riskier than ever to keep personally identifiable information stored at home.

Though it’s convenient to back up other documents and precious photos and videos via a cloud service, you never know what could happen.  What if the provider goes out of business and takes their servers offline, or what if a natural disaster or fire strikes their IT center?  I prefer to keep a physical backup of everything I keep on the cloud, and I think it’s best to store it outside my home.

More than anything else, my friend seemed to forget that safe deposit boxes are for a lot more than just paper documents.  They’re for valuables like comic books, vinyl records, baseball cards, coins, and jewelry.  They’re for keepsakes like military medals, love letters, photographs, scrapbooks, and trinkets from loved ones.  I write a daily journal about my children, which I feel will be infinitely valuable to us as the years go by, and the thought of losing it terrifies me.  This is the main reason I have a safe deposit box.  As I fill up the pages of each notebook with stories of my sons, I store it where I know it will be safe—at the bank.  And admittedly, I enjoy feeling like a spy every time I drop off a new notebook.

By Adam Lucas Adam Lucas holds a Finance degree and an MBA from the University of Kentucky. His work has appeared in many major outlets including Yahoo,, and

Monday on the Money is a weekly commentary from Bank of the Ozarks providing financial advice and solutions important to you and your family.