I’m a big fan of projects and of staying busy. Just ask my husband – he’ll tell you I have lists for lists (including a never-ending “honey-do” section for him).
With spending more time at home these days, my project list is booming. I generally stay busy as a working mom with two young boys but this quarantine has forced me to reevaluate my lists.
Some things (like homeschooling) were added overnight and with no prep time. I’m also trying to make time for the simple things that are often neglected. I feel that one area people often neglect is the organization of their financial documents.
Why do people often neglect to take the time to do this? “It’s boring.” It is-but it’s important. “There’s a lot I need to watch on Netflix” You’ve already watched everything, remember??
I have a friend whose mom referred to this as getting “dead-ready” and I’ve always loved that term, but it’s so much more than that. If you had a fire and you had to run out of your house, would it be helpful to have all of your financial documents in one handy binder you could grab?
Most would answer ‘yes’. If looking for thrills, this probably isn’t your list (head back to Netflix). If you’re looking to feel accomplished and to add a little more order to your life, read on.
- If you don’t have some sort of a financial organizer, you need one. This is number one on my list because it’s important (it will also take the most time).
This should summarize all of your financial pieces in one handy place. It should be clearly labeled and easy to grab in the event of a fire or other emergency. It should also something that your heirs (or trusted contacts) can locate in the event something happens to you.
Along with a phone call to your advisor at Acropolis, this document will help guide your friends and/or family through handling your affairs.
Some people choose to share a copy of this with their adult children or trusted contacts. This is great-just make sure to also give them updated information as things change.
As mentioned above, once you’ve done the work to create it, just make sure to update your document at least annually, or as significant changes occur.
We have a template to give you a start, so let us know if you’d like a copy.
- Write out or update your inventory of personal belongings for insurance purposes – make sure to take pictures and/or videos.
If you experienced a loss today, would you be able to produce such a list? Likely not. If you’ve ever known someone who experienced a loss and had to prepare this type of list, you’ll know why it’s important. Full disclaimer – I still need to do this one!
Be specific and, when possible, even include details such as serial numbers for expensive electronics.
Keeping a copy of this list in multiple places is helpful in the event you experience a fire or event that damages your home. Email a copy to yourself or give a copy to a trusted friend or family member.
- Do you have what it takes to go paperless?
Have you thought of converting the majority of your bills to email delivery rather than paper? I find this to work best when you have a separate email address for bills only.
After I pay the bill, I delete the email. This won’t work for every bill but it cuts down on the amount of mail received (and paper, in general) significantly. I’ve helped multiple clients transition to paperless and all said it helped streamline the bill-paying process.
- Clean out old statements/documents and prepare for shredding. Save only the essentials-everything else just gets in the way of finding what you actually need.
- Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com. You’re allowed one free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus per year.
- Check your bank and credit card statements to see if you’re being charged for services you no longer use. Subscriptions are great until you no longer need the service.
You can find templates online for most of these topics but please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can help. We’re happy to point you in the right direction or share some of our favorite resources.
Not ready to tackle financial organization? If you have grand-kids and you miss them terribly, set up a FaceTime or Zoom meeting.
Read them a book, play a virtual game or even tell them a story about your childhood. They’ll love your time together and your kids will love you even more for the much-needed break. Don’t worry if they go stare at the wall for a few minutes – they’re fine. And luckily, Netflix is always adding more content.
Tell us how you’ve been spending your extra time-we’d love to hear how you’re spending your days. Stay healthy, stay busy and please stay in contact with your friends at Acropolis.