It’s dark, it’s raining, and you’re in a bad situation. In a word, an emergency, and you need to reach your bank, your insurer, your business partner. Now.
Can you find this critical financial information easily? Does your spouse or family know where it is?
At Enwealthen, we want you to take the first steps towards financial emergency preparedness by assembling your financial information in one place.
Are You Prepared for An Emergency?
No one likes to think about it. The less you think about it, the safer you feel, right? Well, bad things happen – often to the best people. As all Boy Scouts know, it’s best to be prepared.
Perhaps it’s a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, tsunami, forest fire, or the big one here in California – earthquake. Farfetched? Every one of these has happened within 200 miles (or much closer) of my home in the past few years. Some even happening right now.
Have you ever been robbed? Nothing like having someone rummage through your things, taking whatever they want, to give you a new found appreciation for security, and preparedness.
Or the accident or unexpected illness that leaves you in the hospital, away from your files, your computer, your life.
And of course, the ultimate disaster, death.
Are you prepared?
My Personal Disaster – A Wedding
Kidding, honey, just kidding.
If you’re a regular patron of Enwealthen, you likely know I’m recently married. Marriage comes with many joys but also many challenges. The trickiest are the financial changes that come with merging two lives.
Opening of joint accounts. Deciding on credit cards. Budgeting. Evaluating and updating home, auto, medical, & life insurance policies. And of course, the wills.
Overwhelmed? I know I was. So I tackled this monster by making a list, and started with organizing our financial information in a secure, yet easy to locate, manner. Here’s a chance for you to save time and benefit from my work.
Keep in mind, that this is just financial emergency preparedness I’m covering here – making sure that if the worst happens, you can easily locate all the information you need to keep your financial house in order.
For non-financial emergency preparedness such as emergency supplies, evacuation routes, medical information, contact information and the like, there are a slew of great resources, among them the Red Cross and FEMA. Even The Motley Fool has an emergency document guide.
But Where Do I Start?
Get started right here, right now, with these basic steps:
- Gather your critical documents: passports, wills / trusts, birth certificates, deeds, titles, etc. in one place
- Create a single list of all your financial partners and service providers, including names, contact information, account information, document location, etc.
- Secure it all
Wait a minute, that’s hard! Trust me, and keep reading. I’ve made it easier.
Gathering your paper documents is fairly straightforward. You know where they are, but they’re likely in multiple locations. Find them all, and bring them together in one place. Tell your spouse, family, executor, where that one place is.
Security is another matter. This information is very attractive to identity thieves or other evil doers. So you must take precautions and store this information securely.
Ideally, you store your documents in a bank safe deposit vault. Despite the inverse correlation between security and convenience, we want our documents safe, but accessible. Having a bank safe deposit box is the most economical way of securing your documents. You can always keep copies in your files at home, in paper or electronic form, for easier access to the information. The point is that the originals are secure from theft, fire, flood, etc.
Or, you could buy a safe. I’m talking a real safe, not a lockbox you can pop by dropping it on its corner. A quality safe will give your documents a reasonable chance of surviving a fire, but still be close at hand for easy access. While you can buy a safe on Amazon, I recommend finding a safe company nearby. Quality safes can run you several hundred dollars for small models, so on a frugal note, check your local auction house for possible deals.
For securing your digital documents,
you can’t beat TrueCrypt. It’s free, open source, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can even create a TrueCrypt secure storage area on your Dropbox account for secure storage that is accessible from any computer. However, be sure to share the password for your encrypted files with your family and the executor of your will so they can access your secured digital files in an emergency. Update: The TrueCrypt project has shut down under mysterious circumstances and I no longer recommend it. Expect a new post soon with my new recommendations for encrypted file storage.
Finally, for your financial information, you just need a way to list all your accounts, all in one place, and is easy to store in your safe / safety deposit box, with the executor of your will, and keep digital copies at home for convenience.
Easy, right? No? Well, here’s an easy way to get started.
Get Started With A Financial Emergency Preparedness Kit
I created this emergency financial information organizer as part of my financial emergency preparedness kit. I liked it so much, I thought you might like it too. You get
- A 10 page document with room for financial service providers, banks, investments, and more
- Available in Microsoft Excel (XLSX) or Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) format
- Easy to update on your computer, print it out for your safety deposit box, and then store on your encrypted TrueCrypt space
- Did I mention, It’s Free!
- Peace of mind
To receive your emergency financial information organizer, just join my mailing list below. You’ll receive the financial information organizer immediately, plus you’ll receive my future articles directly in your inbox. It’s free, and easy to leave if you change your mind. Of course, I’ll guard your email address as I do my own, and never sell it, or spam you.
If you’re already signed up, thank you! You’ll be automatically receiving it shortly, if you haven’t already.
You’re one step away from organizing your finances, and being able to just relax.
Sign up, and get started now.
Photo of glass emergency jar courtesy of Tax Credits.