Let’s help you get 3 D’s in personal finance this month. As on Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the letter D, because we’ve been trained since preschool to get A’s. Are you a personal finance slacker? This post is for you!
Let’s consider these 3 D’s: Decluttering, Disaster and Discussion.
- Three things you can do today! Financial decluttering- included here are things like unsubscribing from shopping site emails, from Groupon to misleading requests for your bank account number or to “verify” your order from BigBoxCity.com Unsubscribe, delete and mark them as spam until they disappear.
- Spreading the wealth is not always a good thing. Do you have multiple financial accounts spread around town, or the country? Do you still have an old 401(k) account with a former employer? If you had had a life changing event-did you change your beneficiary? Beneficiary choices always trump your will.
- Are you still receiving multiple credit card or insurance offers? You can stop them, you know.
- What to have in the house in case you are stuck for 3-7 days, and what to take with you for an evacuation (say, for a wildfire or a hurricane)
- You might think of your children first, or maybe not….Quick, what are the first three things or people you are going to grab? Start there and then add to the list throughout September, which is National Preparedness Month. #NatlPrep on Twitter
- Practical digital tasks you can accomplish quickly. Load up an 8G flash drive on a lanyard with scanned important documents and photos-I got this tip from a friend who is a trained Urban Disaster Responder. Place in your disaster box or backpack.
- Upload these same documents into your regular cloud storage.
- Complete this handy document created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the US.
- Actual cash somewhere ($10 in quarters, in case you find a working washing machine) and small denominated dollar bills. Remember the comedian David Brenner’s last wish here-“Bury me with $100 in dollar bills in case tipping is suggested at my final destination”.
Two years ago, my personal representative and I were reviewing my updated estate planning documents. Example: If in a coma with pain, which of the following did I want?
“Active treatment, treatment without resuscitation, active treatment for 30 days, comfort care only…I carefully numbered all four in order. She said, “I think you were supposed to only choose one.”
[Choose a personal representative you can laugh with]
Then I shared a bit with a relative, who has appointed me his health care POA. I said, “I did a bit of work so I can get my will and other documents updated”. I had to consider what I would want if I was in a “Permanent Unconscious Condition”. For example, you once told me you want “no heroic measures”, but I don’t know what the heck that means. What I could have said was “I don’t know what that means to you. We should discuss that.” My attorney’s forms give me four choices, Active Treatment, Treatment without Resuscitation, Trial Treatment for 30 Days, Comfort Care only. Check your health care directives or the health care part of your Durable Power of Attorney to see what has been indicated for you.
I used a roundabout way to bring up a difficult subject with my relative by telling him about a different conversation. You could also say to an elder loved one, “Mom, what are your friends or book club members doing about end of life planning?”
This gives her/him an opening to mention what other people are doing first. That is a first step. Then it is easier to say, what do you think you would like? Or if a loved one describes a memorial service to you, listen carefully to what they liked and didn’t like about the event.
What good will this do? While I am not an estate attorney, I can tell you that transparency and discussion can reduce uncertainty later, help any personal representative or executor feel they are really carrying out Mom or Dad’s wishes and three more words: Reduce Family Feuds. (You don’t want those!) They suck away time, energy and cash.
In conclusion, when you consider financial decluttering, disaster preparedness and actively discussing these topics with your loved ones before there is a crisis, I believe that your day to day life will be simpler; you won’t have nightmares about the next wildfire or earthquake news, and you will have a chance to learn what really matters to your family members.