Last week, I attended Vanguard’s Family and Finance: Connecting the Dots workshop at their site in Valley Forge. As a frugal blogger, as the financial manager for my family, as a woman, I found this workshop to be incredibly helpful. While I feel like I’ve come a long way in my financial knowledge, there’s still so much for me to learn especially with my oldest son going to college in a few very short years and my husband’s retirement getting that much closer.
“What If?” Conversation
One discussion, or series of discussions, I need to have with my husband is the “What If?” conversation. Have you ever considered what your life would look like if unexpected things happened?
…one of us dies early?
…we lose our home through a fire?
…he’s disabled and unable to work as our primary breadwinner?
…I’m disabled and can’t run the home?
…one of our parents needs financial or physical help?
…it’s time to think about assisted living for one of our parents?
…he gets a job offer that requires moving?
…there’s a major expense?
…what if one of us ends up in a coma and can’t communicate?
These are tough questions for married couples to discuss. I also didn’t include ones like what if the wife got pregnant since I think we’re out of that season, however, you may not be. Or, you may want to adopt a child. You’ll need to personalize this list to fit your own situation.
From personal experience, some spouses will struggle with discussing these questions. If you’re the spouse asking the questions, and being put off by your other half, firmly press the matter. You may need to do some digging in a separate conversation or start with couples therapy to open up the topic if your spouse has significant issues holding them back like the early death of a parent. While the conversation is about both of you, it’s also about the future of your children if you have any.
Personal Financial Inventory
At Vanguard’s Family and Finance workshop, I picked up a fabulous resource to share with you to help with the “What If?” conversation – a personal financial inventory notebook. Not only will this be useful during an unexpected emergency, it can also help the spouse who doesn’t handle the finances regularly if they need to take over the finances. When I was pregnant 4 times in 6 years, I included our account information in the homekeeping notebook I put together for my husband. Every so often I remind him about where to find the account information, and I keep a copy in our safe.
Think of this personal financial inventory as your snapshot for family members to look at during an emergency. If you receive electronic statements for your assets or liabilities, print a complete statement yearly and include it in the inventory. Make multiple copies of the inventory available to trusted family members in sealed envelopes.
What to Include
- bank and credit union accounts
- investment accounts
- retirement accounts
- education accounts
- tangible property
- mortgages and home equity loans
- motor vehicle loans
- personal loans
- credit cards
- life insurance policies
- health insurance policies
- motor vehicle insurance policies
- home owner’s insurance policies (include list of valuables and major appliances with serial numbers)
- location of important documents (will, power of attorney, titles for cars, etc.)
- contact list (be thorough with this one; not just emergency contacts)
- funeral arrangements
When you update this notebook on a regular basis (yearly), write a date for anyone else needing to look at the information.
What else would you include in a Personal Financial Inventory Notebook?