No Better Time to Get Your Financial House in Order
The pandemic has taught us that our “normal” can change quite literally overnight. Like many things in life, the better prepared we are for the unknown, the better shape we could be in when that time comes. Whether you are “in charge of the checkbook” or not, there are several practical considerations to get your financial house in order.
- Make a master list and refresh it yearly. Think of this as your household balance sheet. Not sure exactly what is out there? Below are some items to consider including in your master list.
- Run a credit report on yourself to confirm assets and debt in your name and ask your significant other to do the same.
- Create a list of bank accounts/bank account numbers and who is listed on each account:
- Include retirement accounts, college savings plans, etc.
- List out your debts, including balances, place held, contact information, rates, and terms.
- Establish a listing of all your credit cards and whose name is on each account.
- Create a list of all assets and how they are “titled,” e.g., is your car title in both names or just one with rights of survivorship?
- Make a list of safety deposit boxes and contents.
- Create lists of other assets of value (jewelry/watches/collectibles):
- Check to make sure these are included in your homeowners insurance policy and the value is still appropriate.
- Create lists of significant virtual assets, such as purchased music, digital books, significant airline miles, and credit card points.
- Dust off and refresh that household budget. Reset your thinking about budgeting. Think of it as the easiest way to determine what “fun money” you have when the bills are paid. There are templates or phone apps that can help you. Typically, a household budget includes the following:
- List income by source. Know the difference between “gross” and “net” pay and what is being taken out before it hits your account. Review pay stubs to see these deductions or consult with your accountant.
- List regular, recurring expenses and the dates they are paid.
- List payments to credit cards.
- List transfers to savings or other accounts.
- Figure the excess amount remaining (fun money!) — save this for a vacation, or have a special night out!
- Know the location of important documents. One option is to keep a copy of each in a fireproof safe that will hopefully survive a fire/flood/tornado. Consider having these items secured and updating them every few years:
- Wills, deeds, titles, medical POA, trust agreements, passports, birth certificates, etc.
- Keys to safety deposit boxes or other off-site asset locations.
- Hard copies of homeowners policy listing assets.
- Current and historical copies of the master list.
- Current and historical copies of the budget.
- Year-end hard copies of all bank/investment/retirement accounts:
- With the increase in cybercrime, it’s good to keep a hard copy showing bank balances going back a few years. In addition, learn how long the IRS wants you to keep things. For more insight, see our Tax Record Retention Guidelines page.
Having your financial house in order may sound tedious, but much like “spring cleaning,” it is worth the effort. We don’t know when the next “2020” will arrive, whether it be a pandemic, cyberattack, or divorce. Being prepared will make navigating those seas of change a bit smoother.
For more information, reach out to your advisor or submit the Contact Us form below.