Whether it’s an unexpected addition to the family, a tree falling in on your roof, the loss of a job, or the loss of a spouse, there are many unexpected events that have the potential to disrupt your life. When they do, the last thing you want to deal with is questions about money. That’s why one of the best things you can do during the calm periods is to make sure your finances are in order and set aside detailed instructions should anything happen to you or the person you’re financially dependent on. To help you with that process, we’ve put together a short list of things to consider:
It’s always a good idea to have anywhere from three to six months worth of income saved up to help soften the blow when life doesn’t go exactly as planned. Having a little extra cash stored up can be enormously helpful when you need to replace a car unexpectedly or have to find a new job.
Sometimes layoffs happen for reasons beyond your control. When you find yourself out of work, it’s easier to transition back into the job seeking process if you’ve been periodically updating your resume beforehand. It’s also a good idea to maintain a list of your professional contacts and keep in touch with them periodically so that you have a solid network that you can inquire of in the event that you need to find a new place of employment.
I recently had lunch with a group of my mother’s friends, several of whom had been widowed, and upon learning of my profession, several of them mentioned how difficult it was after their husbands passed to figure out where the money was and who was in charge of it. While it’s certainly not something anyone wants to think about, there is the possibility that your spouse may pass unexpectedly. Especially for women who are dependent on their spouse's retirement benefits and savings, I highly encourage you to make an emergency money contact list with your spouse detailing where all of the accounts are, who the primary contact is, and the appropriate number to call should anything happen. That way, if something does ever happen you don’t have to fish through old statements or emails during an already difficult time to maintain financial stability.
If you don’t have a will already, it’s definitely a good idea to sit down and figure out what your final wishes are and designate whom you would like to carry them out should anything happen to you. That being said, it’s also a good idea to update your will periodically as major life events occur, particularly if you get remarried or there are additions to the family. That way you can be sure that your new spouse or grandchild is taken care of in case anything happens to you.
This may seem like a silly addition to the list, but the more stories I’ve heard of unexpected, life-altering events, the more I’m convinced of the importance of having a good friend that you can turn to without a moment's hesitation. Having someone that you can lean on who will walk through the difficult meetings and take care of the logistics for you can be a huge blessing.
While I would not wish tragedy on anyone, life is unpredictable and you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consistently make sure your affairs are in order. If you are currently dealing with a difficult situation and would like to speak with one of our advisors, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always happy to walk you through what you need to do to make sure money isn’t something you have to worry about during an otherwise tough time.