Create a financial inventoryA financial inventory will help you and your advocate understand your sources of income, debt, and other money needs. Keeping this information all in one place will make it easier for your financial advocate to assist you in the future.
Here's what your inventory should contain:
- Names of financial institutions and insurance companies with contact information of any representatives or agents assigned to your account
- Account number(s)
- Estimate of account value
- Usernames and passwords for online accounts
- The dates you created and updated the inventory
Make sure to periodically review and update your inventory.
Where should you keep this information?
Store financial information online in a password protected cloud storage account using tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or iCloud.
- Accessibility: You can access it anywhere as long as you have a computer or a smartphone with internet access.
- Security: Most cloud storage companies have extra features to protect your information.
- Advocate needs to know your password to access the information.
- May need to pay for cloud storage.
- Some learning is required.
Store a hard copy of your financial information in a locked file drawer or safe.
- No learning necessary.
- Does not require any digital device to access.
- Greater risk of theft, fire, and water damage. You could also lose the key or forget the combination to the safe.
- Advocate must have access to the key or know the combination.
- You can’t access or edit the information if you are away.
Helpful tips for keeping your money safe:
+Use direct deposit for all income
This includes paychecks, investment income, pensions, and Social Security payments. The money will be deposited securely into the account you choose.
+Set up automatic payment of your regular monthly bills
Doing this can simplify your finances and avoid late fees.
+Close unnecessary accounts
If you keep your money in a lot of different places, considering consolidating accounts. This will make it easier for you and your financial advocate to keep track of everything.
+Apply low limits on credit cards
Setting a low limit on your credit cards can prevent overspending. And if your credit card ever ends up in the wrong hands, that person won’t be able to charge as much.
+Set up account alerts to prevent fraud and identity theft
Many financial companies will do this automatically. But if you are not sure or you are not familiar with online banking, you can ask your banker or broker to help you. Make sure to call ahead and make an appointment.
+Protect accounts that are managed online
a. One password for multiple accounts might be easier to remember, but if one account is hacked, scammers can use the same login information to get into your other accounts. Use different passwords for different accounts and change them periodically. It is true that this can be a lot of work, but you can use a secure online password manager to help you organize and save your passwords so that you don’t have to remember them all the time.
b. Use two-factor authentication. This means that after you type in your username and password to log in, you will also need to type in a temporary code that is sent to you at that moment via a text, email, or phone call. When you are ready to involve your advocate, make sure to add their cell phone number or email address to your online accounts so that your advocate can use two-factor authentication to log in. Having only your username and password will not be enough.
Protect your retirement savings from major losses. Plan a retirement income strategy so that you have a steady income stream and your investment accounts are protected against fraud and abuse. Open this guide to learn helpful strategies.