Do I really need to keep this? …yes….Now where should I keep this? In the information age it seems like there is more to keep track of – but when we come down to basics there are still basic documents that we all have and need, and need to be able to find. There is a lot of information online – bank statements, mortgage payments, bills, paystubs – but what happens when your circumstances change or the information system shuts down. Is there a way for you to get what you need – or your family members?
- Weeks. Paper receipts. The grocery store, gas, eating out. These receipts are not necessarily for long term record keeping – but they help when the credit card statement and balancing the checkbook routine comes. According to Experian research – the average U.S. consumer has an average balance of $6,354 on their credit cards. Without the paper receipts to verify transactions – the extra $100-$300 in excess charges or fraud may not be detected. After the monthly verification – the paper receipts can be discarded. Preferably in the shredder.
- Years. The ones that come to mind are the tax returns, mortgage payments and warranties. These are usually in a drawer or stuffed in a cupboard – “somewhere” and may not be accessible in an easy way. The ones that slip the mind and can be difficult to keep track of are the medical bills and plans. Even if you have changed employers, doctors or plans – there is no record of your medical history and payments other than you. Pre-existing conditions or the blood-test that didn’t get sent to the insurance company can come back years later when you interact with the same providers again. Suze Orman has an article on other documents that we should have in our record box.
- Forever – These are the one that we mention on most of our blogs and the things that are, hopefully, in our safe places. Give yourself time to get these together. Your birth certificate (and those of your household), Marriage License(s),(it is key to continue to keep the marriage license of previous marriages even if they have been officially annulled), the Adoption papers and Death certificates. Wills and Death certificates (of anyone that may be connected to your life and could have influence in your future holdings). To get a copy of most of these documents – you need to make a request at the county where the event occurred. This can be tricky when a person is born or dies in a place other than their usual place of residence. If you are unable to physically go to the county clerk office – there are third-party groups that, for a processing fee, will be able to help you get the documents you need.
As you hit the deadlines of storage – don’t forget to dispose of your paperwork carefully. Saving the planet by utilizing the recycling bin is all in good nature, but identity theft is real and has happened to 1 out of every 15 Americans. Consider investing in a home shredder that can be used on a daily basis. Alternatively there are often community shredding services multiple times a year when you can take boxes of paperwork to be safely shredded. For a fee, local office supply stores will also shred important documents.
As you reach to begin the record keeping process and shred those papers, remember InsureYouKnow.org product offerings may be your answer. It’s a safe place to digitally store all the information in case you need to access it remotely – or from the comforts of your own home. Taking stock of your records, memories and your current resources with an annual plan, may provide the peace of mind you’ve been looking for.
Our days are full. Our lives are full. We continue in our daily routine. But then something happens – the car doesn’t start, there’s a storm which makes the fence fall, the washer stops working mid-cycle. After the initial panic and stress, we utilize our resources and find a way to prioritize that and get it fixed. Perhaps a neighbor or our partner lends a hand, or we contact a handyman or the warranty company. However the larger “somethings” take a while to fix – the car needing new parts, the fence damaging the water line, or the appliances that need replacing – which alters the way that our days and lives function. Multiple resources are required to help continue our daily routine. In some cases there is no way to fix the something and we need to stop our lives and re-evaluate what life will be like now. The resources cannot fix or support us – but Insurance can help.
There are so many types of insurance – car and home insurance are the most commonly marketed along with health. Every year – the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors dedicates September to Life Insurance Awareness Month. They launch a site and full spread of marketing materials on www.lifehappenspro.org to educate the public about the importance of planning ahead for the “life happens” moments. Life insurance has been misconstrued as a product that is only available for individuals with excess or resources but there are several options for all types of people.
When you search “insurance” in google – 4,960,000,000 results – pop up. How do we find the time, the right advisor, and the right type of insurance for your personalized needs?
Go to the well-known companies – the ones that show up in the top 10 search or the ones that are advertised in your life (television, billboards, newspapers, flyers in the mail). They often have resources that inform about product types before even interacting with the sales area.
Go to someone based on referral – the ones that your friends or neighbors recommend. Family members alwayss have an opinion on something and even a negative story can steer you in the right direction. If you don’t have a community of people in your life to ask, putting an “ask” out on social media will provide comments that could be useful.
Go to a website that provides prices – the ones that can give you information without interacting with people. It’s tough to know what is a good price without knowing a ballpark range. An example of this is insureyouknow.org which provides a quote directly to your inbox after answering a few simple questions.
Insureyouknow.org can support you with your life insurance needs by providing you quotes directly on their website. There are also other InsureYouKnow.org product offerings to help you reference those important records when the “life happens” moments occur. It’s a safe place to store all the information in case you need to access it remotely – or from the comforts of your own home. An annual plan is available to support your budget needs.
Donor fatigue has been taking the limelight in recent months. Many international nonprofits are unable to get the funding they need to cover the increasing needs. Flooding in Asia, Refugees in Central America, Ebola and HIV in East Africa, Endangered species in Europe. And closer to home – children needing school supplies and living without a balanced diet, seniors without funds to pay their bills, veterans without jobs. It all matters – it is all relevant, and it can all seem a bit too much – especially when many of us have concerns in our day-to-day lives. According to charitynavigator.org – 70% of donations come from individuals. How can you – an individual drill in and focus on what matters to you?
Look at your …
Passion– What in the world inspires you? Angers you? Has changed your life? This is the backbone of most donations in the United States. According to philanthropy.com, most donors give from the heart. Whether it’s due to a life changing event, love of animals or art, or a neighbor who you wish to support – it’s good to start somewhere…. Even if it’s just knowing what you are not willing to give to. Many households begin their journey of giving within their faith-based communities and continue from there, others start in childhood with sales from scouting. If you enjoy an organization’s work, or a cause – you are more likely to continue your support.
Budget – How would you like to donate? One time, monthly, semi-annually, on birthdays? How much can you give? There’s a nagging voice that often pops up when looking at this area – what’s in it for me. Some nonprofits provide levels or recognition for donations, others provide a material incentive – a logo-ed item, tickets to an event or opportunity to participate in an activity. Be mindful of the incentives you receive as they may affect the ability for you to claim on your tax returns.
Research – There are nearly 100,000 registered nonprofits in Texas, 1.5million in the United States and there is no clear number for the number around the world. Registered nonprofits are not the only ways to donate. There is overlap on causes, and there are scams. Gofundme among other groups are a recent phenomenon where individuals can reach out and ask for $$ without affiliation to a nonprofit. There are great stories out there, but also many people who are utilizing your heart and budget to fund their personal needs. Unfortunately there are people and people within nonprofits that are less than ethical. There are watch-dog organizations in the charitable space that publish findings and news.
Connections – As you research – there may be nonprofits that are new to you, people doing things that wow you. You do not have to support them with monetary means. Connecting with them via social media, joining their communication lists or even volunteering your time are ways to support the cause and may even be more valuable than cash. Some nonprofits also have wish lists or item donations that they appreciate more than the cash.
Family involvement – What is important to your partner, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings? Donations on behalf of family members can also provide value. There may be causes that you haven’t considered or ways to make the donation a team building effort. They may also have ideas for you to research.
Donations can also be documented for your tax return purposes. InsureYouKnow.org product offerings are a tool to support you. It’s a safe place to store all the information relating to your donations, easy to access remotely – or from the comforts of your own home, and has options to save receipts and documentation that you may need in the early part of the year. An annual plan is available to support your budget needs.
The children are watching… your every move, your every snack and your every minute carved out for yourself. They are hungry for attention, for something fun to do, for YOU. You could be their parent, uncle, grandparent, neighbor or even the passerby in the grocery store aisle, but the child has a fascination and need to soak up all stimuli. How can we fathom what is going on in their minds with neurons firing and brain cells absorbing YOU?
There are many similarities between the preparation for the school year, and learning more about what makes you, YOU.
School Supplies – We get a list of school supplies provided by the school perhaps 3-4 months before the new school year starts. Some people will purchase the full school supply package from the school, have the supplies delivered to the school and not worry about anything further – their job is done, without even reading the list. There is the group in the middle that have studied the list, reviewed the communal supplies like tissues and wipes, and child-specific – pencils, folders, and composition books and are working at their own pace to find the best deals and coupons at the best stores. And others will see the list, but not act upon it until the last days before the school year starts – nearly 100 days later – and will rush to the nearest store to gather everything and more.
Which is better, which is YOU? It really depends on your values. Group 1 saves mental stress but spends more. Group 2 saves money but takes on the mental stress throughout the summer. Group 3 spends more and has intense mental stress. Our personality type dictates how we handle the school supply task – and other to-do items.
Organizing the Calendar – The Summer months give many families a chance to escape from reality. The calendar belongs to you instead of the school system. Some people will fill the calendar with vacations and camps; there is something “to-do” everyday – essentially keeping the constant flow. Others will take each day as it comes, they may not know what day it is, what time it is and what is the next meal – the Summer is the Summer. The last group tries to have it all – keeping a foot in reality but having some fun along the months.
Which have you followed, which is YOU? It really depends on your circumstance. Group 1 may have more financial resources. Group 2 may have more time. Group 3 may need more control. Our life dictates how we handle the calendar – and other activities in our lives.
As you watch the frantic caregivers purchase school supplies, organize their calendars, and keep the youth entertained for just a few more days – remember there’s InsureYouKnow.org product offerings to reference those important records. It’s a safe place to store all the information in case you need to access it remotely – or from the comforts of your own home. Take stock of the summer memories and your current resources with an annual plan.
Jumping down the rabbit hole of getting our affairs in order can seem like another chore on top of our full days. And where to start? The idea seems overwhelming – paperwork, copies, notarizing, legal counsel and fees. Questions add to our procrastination: What if I can’t find it? What if I don’t really know what my account numbers are? What if I can’t finish – does this just create more clutter?
There are many lists and suggestions of “in case of emergency” documents that everyone should have together, but when there are multiple people in your household, or multiple dependents – the task can seem confusing and overwhelming. I’ve thought of some suggestions of how to start the task, and then how to add to the folder or portfolio as time allows.
Stage 1: Locating documents.
Some of these are easier than others. Creating a physical file AND an electronic copy of these documents is vital in our new era of technology. Requests for “soft copies” or the need to provide 3 or 4 documents at a time makes it easier to utilize the electronic versions.
Suggestions for these documents can be found on our website – InsureYouKnow – but some of the easier ones are – Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Medical Insurance Card and Passport. Some of the trickier ones are Birth Certificate, Wedding License, Mortgage/Lease Paperwork and Vehicle Titles and may require you to reach out to the county office to apply for a copy.
Stage 2: Creating Lists.
If you are like me – making lists is easy. The hard part is filling in the information and remembering to update them. There are three types of lists that are important for ongoing upkeep.
Assets/Liabilities: Meaning – what do I have and what do I owe. Do you own property, land, business? Where do you put your money – bank, credit union, bonds, 401K? The liabilities are the companies you pay bills to – electric, cell phone, mortgage, pest control, car insurance. Essentially it’s the things that are in your head, but not documented in one place and certainly not available for all.
Contacts: Meaning – who are your most important people. Start with the top 10 list of people that you would like to know that a life change has happened. This doesn’t have to be in catastrophic instances – the lottery win would be a fantastic opportunity to utilize this list. Many times, there would be overlap in the lists for household members. Examples are children, siblings, parents, partners.
Medications: Most of us have this handy but is a good practice to have a medication list to share with a household member during an emergency or if we are unable to make it to the pharmacy for refills. There are several apps and templates available online to keep the lists uniform. A short narrative of the medical history can also be put with this list.
Stage 3: Fill in the gaps
As you get deeper in the rabbit hole, it will be clear that there’s items that you need to research further, and involve other parties. Examples include healthcare directives and living wills. These often need to be notarized to be valid and sometimes require a witness or legal professional. There are many options online but having conversations with those that you trust may uncover a resource that you can utilize that saves money, time and headache.
As you start putting all your documents together, consider using InsureYouKnow.org – an online information-safe, as a place to store them. This product gives you the ability to access documents, and files remotely – or from the comforts of your own home. There are various levels of access to allow your family members, caregivers or business associates insight into your documents – as needed. There is even a trusty reminder feature to help you remember that it’s time to update.