The year 2020 has shown us that, despite typical emergency planning, atypical disruptions can affect your personal finances, particularly bill paying. Staying current with bill paying is critical to protecting your home, health, car, as well as meeting any obligations to family and friends.
The team at Eddy & Schein has updated a long-proven survival tool and adapted it to help you easily and reliably deal with your personal finances. It’s the “Personal Finances Go Bag.”
Originally known as the “Bug-Out Bag,” it was the emergency kit used by U.S. military pilots to enable them to survive for 72 hours on the ground in case of bailout. Today in the civilian world, it’s known as the Go Bag. Go Bags range from emergency survival kits to small, pre-packed grab-and-go bags stashed in the car or the closet. They’re filled with essentials for reporters, frequent business travelers, weekenders, spies, or anyone who might have to hit the road on short notice.
Be Ready for a Health Emergency, an Unexpected Quarantine, or Other Disruptions
When life abruptly changes course, a Personal Finances Go Bag is how to cover your bases. Emergencies are stressful enough, so the Personal Finances Go Bag is your way of ensuring someone trustworthy has your back.
Take these steps to assemble your Personal Finances Go Bag and be better prepared.
#1. Designate Your Go-To Person
Anyone who pays bills and taxes needs a designated “manager.”
- Powers of Attorney – Give your manager Power of Attorney to act as your agent, with the authority to work with your bank or investment advisor and see that your financial affairs are handled properly if you are not able. Designate a back-up agent as well. Have your POA document signed by all parties.
- Online Accounts – Online statements and payments make for easy, convenient bill paying at home and away… until someone has to step in to handle it all for you. Set up your manager/POA agent with access to funding sources and payment obligations by providing account user IDs and passwords and/or your password app login credentials. Include your manager’s mobile number and/or email address in your account profiles so they can receive verifying texts and emails.
- Health Care Proxies – Put a Health Care Proxy in place so that someone you’ve chosen can get information about your medical condition and be able to authorize treatment. Without that document, doctors cannot speak with your family or your designated agent about your accident, emergency medical condition, or other issues requiring authorization.
- Travel Itineraries – If you travel frequently, particularly internationally, let your go-to person know when and where you’re going, and for how long. Provide them an itinerary if possible.
#2. Build an Accounts List and Calendar
An organized approach is the easiest way to tackle this project – there can be a large amount of information.
- Make a list of all bills and financial obligations, including websites, account numbers, and due dates.
- Spell out when and how money gets where it needs to be to fund payments.
- If you live with roommates, list them with their contact information and details of any shared payment agreements. You can easily make sure your share is covered via Venmo, Apple Pay, or other payment platforms.
- Update or create your third-party notifications contact list of who should be notified by vendors and banks, and for what specific circumstances. More on that next…
#3. Determine 3rd Party Notification Protocols
To be sure your bills get paid, or if you’re acting on behalf of a loved one, it is worth the time to set up 3rd party notifications. By putting 3rd party notifications in place, you enlist the companies themselves to reduce your risk of losing services, insurance, or property.
- Each company uses different terminology, but the purpose remains essentially the same.
– Long-term care insurance companies’ form is called a Lapse Designee Form.
– Utility companies (electricity, gas, oil, water, cable, phone) will each have their own forms.
- Be sure to include all debt payments (mortgage, car loan or lease, credit cards, student loans, etc.), insurance premiums (for auto, homeowners or renters, life, disability, etc.) and any other liabilities you have.
Who Needs a Personal Finances Go Bag?
You do! Disruptions can hit anybody of any age or generation – throughout 2020, we’ve seen lives change radically and suddenly, pushing many of us well beyond the typical “year-in-the-life” circumstances we are usually more prepared to face.
A Personal Finances Go Bag is for anyone who pays their own bills, but would need them handled in case of an emergency, a change in circumstances, or some other situation when you need support, or if you to need to support a child, a parent, or a friend.
One last thought…
If someone you’ve designated is making sure your bills are being paid, finding the bills may depend on the mail being organized and accessible, as opposed to being hidden among piles of magazines and junk mail or behind an unknown account password. Be sure they can find what they need.