What is a financial notebook and why do you need one?
A Financial Notebook
by Nikki Willhite
What is a financial notebook? A financial notebook is basically a record of "All Things Money" when it comes to your family. Your book should have everything you (or someone else) need to know about your finances and other matters of daily living.
Why do you need a financial notebook? I can't stress how valuable it may be to you someday or to your family.
Last year I finally got mine together. It was work, and I mean a lot of work. At times, I even got confused and my family's finances are relatively simple.
I had to sift through file folders (which always become clogged), make phone calls, review information, search out and record account numbers, web sites, passwords, pins, phone numbers, addresses, contact information and more. I found I wasn't nearly as organized as I thought I was. It was a huge endeavor. However, when I was done, everything was at my fingertips, in an easy-to-use binder.
Now, my husband, who was rather freaked out that something might happen to me (since I manage these records), is at peace, and I feel good knowing that if anything happens to me, everything is in order.
Another thing that makes me sleep better is that I know that when I get older, and my brain isn't quite as "sharp," this notebook will make things easier for me and I am less likely to get confused about my finances.
Building your financial notebook requires nothing more than a notebook, dividers, paper, and a lot of hard work. I created all of my pages on my computer first, so that I could easily update and print them again, when necessary. I also have them stored online, so I know the information will never be lost.
There are certain documents you will want to keep in a Fire Safe, but you can either make copies of them or just make a few notes and reference where you have them stored.
Here are some of the categories you may want to include in a financial notebook:
- Personal Info and Children. You will want to list your basic information, such as your residence and phone number. Then add your children and their contact information.
- Banking Information. This will include all checking and saving account information, including account numbers, pins, passwords, webpage access, etc.
- Credit, Mortgage and Credit Report. List all credit cards and related information as above, and do the same thing for your mortgages or Lines of Credit.
- Life Insurance. List all your policies and account numbers, as well as who to contact if you need to make a claim.
- Retirement Money. This is where you can list pension information, IRA, 401K funds, and any other places where you have money saved for retirement. Again, most of these investment vehicles have websites and passwords.
- Social Security. Each year the government sends you a social security statement. Keep that in this book, along with any other information that you feel is important.
- Health Care. List your health care insurance, phone numbers, coverage or places to find them, your doctors, etc.
- Disability Insurance. If you have disability insurance, place all related information here.
- Long Term Care. If you have Long Term Care Insurance, you will have a policy. Make a note where to find it. You can also summarize your benefits and update it yearly if you have inflation protection.
- Home Insurance. If you have an insurance claim, you are going to be upset. Again, this will make it easier./li>
- Home Real Estate Taxes. This makes it easy to find your tax bill, especially if someone else has to pay it.
Some of the other information you may wish to include in your financial notebook:
- Car info, such as insurance information and the location of your vehicle license or pink slip
- Utility information for your home/li>
- Homeowner Association information
- Vendors you like, such as plumbers, carpenters, piano tuners, etc.
- If you have a home business, you will want to include instructions on how to close it down should something happen to you.
Finally, be sure to include the location of your Will and other legal documents relating to your death.
When I was done making my Financial Notebook, I found my file cabinet was almost empty. Now I do not have to dread the yearly "purging" of the cabinet.
There is some risk in making a Financial Notebook. If it falls into the hands of the wrong person, someone could steal your identity or use your credit.
You do not want to leave this notebook just lying around. Ideally, it should be locked up. At a bare minimum, it should be in a place where it isn't noticeable, like between other notebooks or scrapbooks.
If you feel there is someone living in your home and the risk is too great, then I would suggest you just make it on your computer in Word with password protection. When you are comfortable, you can print it.
Make it a goal to make a financial notebook for you and your family this year. It is a lot of work, but well worth it!
Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at www.frugalhappyfamilies.com, where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money! Article first published at www.allthingsfrugal.com
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