Perhaps you’re frequently told—by colleagues at work, family members, or friends—that they don’t know what they’d do without you. Of course, it makes you feel important. But perhaps you’re being given a bit of a back-handed compliment. Any good manager can tell you that the secret to a smooth running and successful operation is delegating authority.
Maybe you make the world’s best bibingka. And after you’re gone, your kids will sit around for decades, reminiscing about what a bibingka Mom used to make. But wouldn’t it be even better if you had given them the recipe and they could continue making it for themselves instead of simply dreaming about it?
How much more important are your financial records! Whether you are the only adult in your household, or share responsibilities, think for a moment. If someone had to take over for you in an emergency, would they be able to keep your affairs running smoothly? Here are some points to consider:
Identify your “backup team.” In most households, there’s a division of labor. While that’s an efficient system for day-to-day operations, cross-training is important as well. Your spouse or partner should know what you know, and vice versa. If you are the only adult in your household, enlist a trusted family member or friend with the necessary information. If you share a home with a roommate, an elderly parent, or another person unwilling or unable to handle your finances, you might also need to go outside of your household to find your “backup team.”
List your bills. Start with rent or mortgage, utilities, minimum payments on credit cards, car payments, and anything else you pay on a regular monthly basis. Then add bills you pay less frequently, such as a yearly trash fee, car insurance, or association dues. Also list items you pay on an as-needed basis, like repairs or yard cleanup.
Create a calendar. Mark down the deadlines for each bill and when you usually pay them.
Create a notation. Mark down how you usually pay each bill: by check, cash, credit or debit card? In person, by mail, electronically?
Provide physical access. Do you have files kept in a desk or filing cabinet? Your backup person will need to know where these are located. Do you have a safe deposit box? Ditto for the keys. Are you the only account holder for your bank accounts? Consider adding your backup person so that check-writing and other transactions may be performed by him or her. Do you keep the business cards of preferred service people? Are they all in one place and is it clear who does what?
Prioritize. If money were tight, which bills would get paid before others? Consider this question and talk it over with your backup person. Also think about what you would do with an unexpected windfall: save it, invest it, donate it to charity, or pay off a debt?
Practice. Don’t just talk about dealing with your finances. You may think you know how to do a thing but actually having to do it flushes out all the possible problems. So guide your family member or friend through the process. With your assistance, have him or her sign onto your online accounts. Go to the bank together and open the safe deposit box. Make sure the bill statements are understandable to both of you.
And remember, turnabout is fair play. If your partner or spouse handles all or some of the bills, then perhaps you are the one who needs training. If handling the finances is not your regular job but suddenly fell to you, would you know what to do?
This month, vow to share information, and step through the process of handling your financial business with someone you trust. Even if you go back to your routine division of labor, you’ll undoubtedly have become more organized in the process and you’ll have gained peace of mind, knowing that in unexpected circumstances, your affairs can be managed smoothly. That’s better than being indispensable any day.
Making Finances Indispensable
While completing this process, you may come to recognize a newfound appreciation of the intricacies involved with managing your financial affairs. Now may be a good time to take a second look at your finances and long term plans and involve your backup in the process. Guidance from a qualified financial professional can help you think about the best ways to plan for the future and manage your money. To learn more or access helpful materials, speak with a local financial professional.
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