Can You Put Your Hands On Every Piece Of Your Financial Life In 10 Minutes Or Less?
Imagine you’re out of town on a much-needed vacation. You’re lounging by the sparkling pool completely relaxed because you took care of everything that needed to be done before you left the house. You even asked a neighbor to pick up your mail and overnight it to you, halfway through the trip to make sure you don’t get behind on any unexpected bills. You pick up the package, get back to your room and dump two weeks’ worth of mail on to your bed. As you begin to thumb through it, you see it. A statement from a credit card company whose card you have already paid off completely and only keep around for emergencies. When you open the envelope, you’re stunned to see that the card that had a zero balance when you left home, now has a $10,000 balance. The problem is that you’re on vacation. The information that you need to prove that you had a zero balance on the card (past statements), the emergency number that you need to call (on the back of the card that they don’t have with them) and any other information that company might need to quickly confirm your identity, cancel the card and get those charges reversed, is all safe and sound in your desk back home!
Impossible you say? I hate to tell you this, but this is a TRUE story! Even though this family had a totally secure mailbox, somehow, someone had stolen the convenience checks sent them by their credit card company, to entice them to transfer a balance. The thief had used it to pay off her American Express balance. After three straight days of phone calls to a highly suspicious credit card company, they finally get the charges off their card and the fraudulent episode out of their lives. Three days of their vacation was ruined, not to mention the level of frustration that could all have been avoided.
The question is…
If you were in the same situation as that couple, sitting in that hotel room with $10,000 in fraudulent charges on your credit card, would you have the information you needed accessible enough to be able to quickly take care of the situation?
Here’s how to do it, quickly and easily.
Your goal is to locate and gather all of the pieces of your financial house and transfer all of that information into your Financial Grab It and Go Form. First you’ll have to go on a scavenger hunt for all of the financial information you have lying around your home, safe deposit box or computer. Depending on your life and the size of your immediate and extended family, that can include your: credit cards, investments, bank account information, contacts for investment counselors and lawyers, wills/trust documents, social security/disability/ retirement benefits, mortgage information, deeds, leases, receipts and tax information. And if you have a small or medium sized home based business, it includes your business documents.
Once you’ve completed the form, you’ll place a copy of the documents and the form into three secure places that you, your spouse or someone acting on your behalf can access whenever necessary.
When you’re finished, you’ll not only have all of the information you need to take care of any emergency at your fingertips, but you’ll be able to see your entire financial picture at a glance. Why is that important? If you always have a general idea of what you have in the bank, your investments and on your credit cards, you’ll be able to spot things that don’t look right at a glance, enabling you to take care of any mistakes immediately.
1. What’s In Your Wallet & Every Place Else?
Grab a pencil and paper and jot down the types of financial accounts and information you currently have. This probably includes Bank Accounts, CDs and Investment Accounts, IRA/401K/Retirement Accounts, Credit Cards, Mortgage Information, Rental Information, Student & Other Loans, Social Security, Pension or Retirement Benefits and financial counselors.
We’ll deal with insurance and other vital documents and information in another blog post.
2. The Recovery Operation
Using the list you just compiled, locate and gather all of the information you can find for each type of financial account you, your spouse and the other adults living in your home, currently have.
3. Getting That In Writing
Let’s document the information that you’ve found. Grab a copy of our Financial Grab It & Go Form, or if you have our book The Backup Plan 3.0, you’ll find a copy in the back of the book. Complete the form with all of the information you’ve located. Then save it or print it and put it to the side.
This information should include:
Bank Accounts: Account Number, Branch, Type of Account, PIN, Website, Customer Service Number
CDs and Investment Accounts: Name of Broker, Institution, Type of Account, Maturity Date, Website, Customer Service Number
IRA/401K/Retirement Accounts: same info
Credit Cards: Company, Account Number, Website, User Name/PIN, Customer Service Number, Credit Limit
Mortgage Information: Company, Type, Interest Rate, Amount, Payment Address, Customer Service Number, Website, Term Length.
Rental Information: Landlord, Rent, Date Due, Lease Term, Where You Send Payment, Landlord Contact Info.
Student & Other Loans: Company, Type, Interest Rate, Amount, Payment Address, Customer Service Number, Website, Term Length
Benefit Payments (ie. Social Security or Retirement Benefits): Type of benefit, amount, direct deposit/mail, customer service number, member number.
Family Counselors like attorneys, brokers, financial counselors: names, contact information
4. Anything Else While We’re At It?
Do you have any other information that you would need in order to conduct financial business while evacuated or away from home?
Scan or make copies of all of your credit and debit cards and place them in the folder you created on your desktop, to hold all of your Get Your Stuff Together forms and Action Plans.
Will you need a copy of your bank or investment statements, loan documents or benefit award statements? If so, scan them to your computer or make three copies of the documents and place them in your desktop folder.
5. Keeping Your Information At Your Fingertips And Secure
Print, scan or make three copies of the form you just completed, along with any vital documents that you found that you’ll need to have at your fingertips and store them in at least three secure, damage-proof locations. That way if one or two of the locations are inaccessible, you’ll still be able to grab the information you need. Here are a few ideas:
If your Financial Information Form is on your computer, you can place it on a password-protected flash drive or portable hard drive:
And take them with you during evacuation on a key ring or in your evacuation bin.
And place it in a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
And place it in a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
Or place the forms and documents in a password-protected online file repository or the file directory of your family’s personal web site. This way if you need a copy of your information or forms quickly, you can retrieve them from any Internet-enabled computer, cellphone or tablet.
If you decide to print out your form instead, you can place it:
In a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
In your Plastic Evacuation Bin. Only place the documents that you actually need in this bin. Remember that evacuating during hurricanes or tornadoes can be hard on documents, so it’s better to take scans with you or leave originals or copies in water resistant safe deposit boxes away from the affected area.
In a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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