How many spouses can rattle off the passwords and account numbers of every financial account each other has? My guess is 0%. While communication is extremely important in money and marriage, sometimes the little details can be overlooked. My wife recently brought this up when she realized she wouldn’t be able to get into a lot of our accounts if I wasn’t around.
I don’t think she is planning on killing me off anytime soon, so we have started to build an emergency financial folder. What would happen if one of us were to get seriously injured or pass away? If I was gone on a work vacation for an extended time and an emergency situation arose, my wife may not have a clue about my accounts to take care of an expense or emergency.
We keep separate bank accounts for our finances. It is easier for us to pay our bills separate, with one main budget. It means we had to learn how to communicate better about money. We have made this work well for us, and our communication about our finances has gotten better every year. Neither of us depends on the other to manage the family finances, but we really aren’t prepared if a catastrophic emergency happens.
I am one that can memorize all of my account numbers and different passwords, while my wife knows generally what her passwords are and saves her account numbers in her phone. This in no way helps either of us figure out how to get into accounts if we aren’t near each other.
Even though we communicate about our budget, our goals, and money overall, there is one important thing we rarely talk about. It is the little details about accounts and payments we may not know. We have a great emergency fund, but what good is it if both of us can’t readily access it if needed. Enter the emergency financial folder…
The Needed Information
In an effort to become more organized, I have started to build an emergency financial folder. This folder will detail all of the information on how to manage finances if one of us is out of the picture. First off, I will list an example of all of the information needed for each account:
Login Information and Password
Payment Amount (If Applicable)
Insurance Policy Value (If Applicable)
Next, here are all of the different accounts you will need to round up and put in your financial folder. I like to keep all of these in one spot so you don’t have to hunt in different places for different accounts. Taking the time to do this will solve so many potential headaches in the future.
Bank Account Information
We have 2 checking accounts and 3 savings accounts, meaning it would be important to know how to get into them. We talk regularly about how much money is in them, but would be unable to access the other’s accounts. This was the major starting point for us deciding to build this financial folder.
We only have 3 cards, but many people have many more. Being able to keep current with bills or talk with companies in an emergency would be crucial if one of us couldn’t manage our own card accounts.
My wife knows the amount we have in our investment accounts, because I like to brag on them since they are rising in this current market. She would have no idea how to actually log in to these accounts though. Also, we will be starting our 529 plan soon. It will be critically important that we both know how to access this account!
Any lender accounts (mortgage, car loan, etc.) need to be documented, along with the minimum payment amount. This insures that everything is kept current if one of us is able to handle our responsibilities.
This is one I hadn’t really thought of until my wife mentioned it. She auto-pays these monthly and receives bills online. Therefore, I would have no way of making sure they were paid if she was unable to. It is also good to have a contact person in case things need to be changed or shut off.
Consumer Reports found that 1 in 600 people are beneficiaries of an unclaimed life insurance benefit. Make sure to tell your beneficiaries if you have a policy, and how they can claim the money when you pass away.
This is a major one. This should be easily accessed if it is ever needed. Having to make an insurance claim on life insurance is a major pain in the ass. If the money is needed quickly, everything helps to make this go smoothly. Have a contact person and all numbers current.
My wife has a supplemental life insurance policy through her work, and we both have our 401(k) accounts. It is important to keep all of this account information in your emergency financial folder, along with company contact information.
This was a great post for me personally, as it was something that had slipped through the cracks in our first three years of marriage. It is always great to evaluate all the details, even small details such as this. Lastly, it continues with our push to organize and declutter our lives. I like knowing that having this taken care of now will save major headaches later. After the folder is created, we will only need to make periodic updates to keep it current.
Make sure to keep this folder hidden in a locked file cabinet, or an encrypted computer folder for all you kids out there. Maybe you can even have a map, with a scavenger hunt to find the folder in your house, even though your spouse would probably be suuuper pissed. I don’t think that’s what Apathy Ends or Budget on A Stick had in mind when they wrote about money maps.
Thanks as always for reading! Do you keep an emergency financial folder? What other items do you keep in it?