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Retirement Planning

Preparing for the “Just in Case”

The personal finance blogosphere is full of type A control freaks who likely handle the family finances. I personally take care of our finances — transferring money in and out of accounts, paying down credit card debt, and making sure all the bills are paid on time.

Note: While I’m not always fabulous with money, I haven’t missed a single bill payment since we got married. You know how most cash-strapped people start by paying for food and then hope money appears for the bills? Yeah, I took the opposite approach when we were broke kids making minimum wage. We never missed a payment and somehow never went hungry either.

Anyways, a bit of a morbid thought ran through my head the other day as I was preparing for my plane to take off for St. Louis. What if something happened to me? While it’s not likely, there is always the possibility that I could die earlier than expected. (I’m shooting for 103.) If something happened to me, how would Steve know our financial system?

Now don’t get me wrong, he knows the account information for our bank and approximate numbers for our monthly bills. But he doesn’t really know the due dates. He doesn’t know much about the online bank accounts that I use to save and pay bills. Wouldn’t it be a terrible thing to not only lose a spouse but also get hounded by bill collectors?

This post is really not supposed to be this morbid. I feel like Daria.

Anyways, I was thinking about how to make sure Steve had all this information if something were to happen to me. Many people use a binder or file away the info but for renters who frequently change accounts, it would be a pain to update each time we moved or acquired a new account. So I came up with another idea…

This week, I will be putting this information into a secured Google doc that I will share with Steve. That way, either of us can update it easily if we need to. Here’s the information I will be including:

  • Bank account information including account numbers, routing numbers, and login information
  • Bill information including amounts, due dates, and the account it is coming out of
  • A list of our debts including interest rates, minimum payments, and due dates
  • My Roth IRA account information, for which he is the beneficiary
  • Online tax preparation information including our login information and PINs

Dealing with the “just in case I die” stuff is not fun. I understand that. But I would rather deal with it now than put my loved ones through hell later trying to sort shit out. This is also the reason that those individuals with dependents should have life insurance. And anyone who owns anything of consequence (or has dependents) should have a will. Both of these items are on my “as soon as I have children” list.

As a lot of you know, my grandpa passed away this month. He had absolutely everything taken care of before he passed so as not to burden his loved ones with trying to organize a funeral while grieving. That’s a truly awesome gift to give your surviving loved ones.

Anyways, I hope the one thing you take away from this is to get organized and make sure your spouse or closest loved one knows what’s up just in case. For me, today, it’s as simple as “this is where our money is and this is where it needs to go”. As time goes on, I will have to deal with harder stuff. And I will do so happily knowing that I’m making Steve’s life easier. You know, just in case.

Whew, sorry all for harshing your mellow.

[Images from Buzzfeed]

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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