I spent an hour Sunday afternoon doing a task I’d been putting off for a while. It turns out, like many things I avoid, that it wasn’t so bad after all, and I’m relieved to be able to cross it off my list. I compiled a list of my various accounts and passwords. I’d known that a master list was an important thing to have for reference purposes, but it became extremely clear to me recently, during holiday shopping and as I’m beginning to do end-of-year financials, how much time it saves me to have a single place to go for all of my passwords. I used to have the username and password for each account written on the front inside cover of the file folder for that account, stashed away in my filing cabinet. Now, instead of having to physically dig it out each time, I can simply open my spreadsheet. Here’s how I organized my account information, and a link to a template you can use.
Step 1: Organize your Spreadsheet
- To set up your listing of accounts you have 2 options: You may want to simply alphabetize the list (as I chose to) by name of the company; Or, you may choose to sort accounts by category, such as online businesses, social media, entertainment, financial, household utilities, etc. What matters here is that you’re making it easy for your future self to access this data, so organize it in a way that makes sense to you.
- List all of the accounts you have passwords and account information for. When I started, I thought I’d have between 10 and 20, and ended up having well over 50! To jog my memory, I went into my gmail and searched through my receipts and other old mail. I actually have a folder in my gmail marked “accounts” where I store account info, so that folder was a gold mine for me in this project.
Step 2: Input the Data
- Once you’ve listed all the companies you can think of and organized the list, it’s time for some busy work. Give yourself a solid hour or two to hammer it all out or commit to logging in 10 accounts each day until you’ve completed the list. I put on a few episodes of Hoarders to have on in the background, and polished my list off in just over an hour.
- Visit each website to locate your username and password for that account, along with any other important information.
- Remember that the point of this is to save yourself time later on, so if you uncover information that you know is important, but doesn’t classify as a username or password, create a category for it. For example, on several of my magazine subscription accounts, I saw the renewal date, and knew that that’s information I’ll need to get my hands on soon, so I allocated a column for those dates. You may also want to create a column for subscription price or membership fee, in case you want a log of what you’re paying for these accounts.
- As a next step, consider creating a spreadsheet for your bank account numbers, insurance policy numbers, medical info, and emergency information.
Step 3: Secure the Document
- This is a very useful document to have, but it’s also a powerful document that includes a wealth of private information. You can protect this by locking the document and making it accessible only with a password. For an Excel document, do this by going to File, Save As, then Options. You will be prompted with a screen to input a password for the document. (shown below)
- If you are worried about security, or are using a program that does not have a protection feature, consider using asterisks in your passwords. For example, all of my passwords are a variation on a particular word, but with different numbers after it. So instead of writing that word out in this document, I would replace each letter with an * and then keep the numbers visible. (as seen above)