Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting Financially Organized: Summarize accounts and obligations

Not only should we be tracking our income, spending and savings, but experts recommend creating a summary of where your money is and where it's going. These lists can help you keep a closer eye on your finances, but they can also be crucial if someone has to step in.

Create a spreadsheet that lists all of your bank accounts, insurance policies and investments in one place. What accounts do you have with which institutions, and what are they used for? Which investments do you hold and under what terms? Make it clear -- both to yourself and to someone else -- how to access cash quickly, and what resources can be tapped in a crisis.  What insurance policies do you have, what are they for & who is the beneficiary?

Ditto for your obligations -- like credit cards, loans, bills and automatic savings plans. Are bills paid online or by mail, and when are they usually due?  What debts are outstanding, credit limits, and are they covered by any insurance policies?  Are RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) contributions automatically deducted by your employer, or is there an automatic transfer between your accounts?  What are the web addresses to sign into an account & what are the user id’s & passwords.

Exercise caution and discretion in where and how you store the information. Storing the summary in a safety deposit box is a good idea -- but emailing yourself the file can be risky.

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