What My Dad’s Death Taught Me About Money
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In a typical household, there always seems to be one person who handles the finances by paying the bills and balancing the checkbook and the other who, well, doesn’t. My dad was the bill payer, and after he passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, I watched my mom panic about how to handle the financial chores that he used to, all while she was grieving.
She had the money to pay for everything, but since my dad handled the finances, she had no clue how he even did some of it. I hated to see her struggle like that after his death, and it was probably the last thing she wanted to deal with at the time.
It was then that I realized that there were so many things that we needed to do differently in my own house. For instance, I pay off our credit card each month, but my husband pays our water and electric bills. I was meticulous about paying our mortgage every month, but my husband pays for our insurance. It all comes out of the same account, but if I don’t actually click the button to pay for something, then it’s out of my mind, which is why I’d probably lose electricity in a month or two if something ever happened to my husband. It probably wouldn’t cross my mind to look for that bill in his email.
Losing a loved one is painful, but inevitable, and sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Planning ahead makes sense and is a whole lot easier than trying to pick up all the financial pieces of your life when you’re grieving.
Keep a Detailed List of Accounts
I like to keep things simple, so I started a notebook of accounts, logins, and passwords for all of our accounts. We keep it in our fireproof safe, and it contains all the financial information we need from where our bank accounts and important documents are kept to the bills that we pay.
I want my family to have evidence of our important financial information in case it is ever needed, because you really never know what’s going to happen. If a notebook is too simplistic for you, you could keep an electronic list in a file on your desktop, as long as it’s secure. The important thing is to have a list available of your financial details for your loved ones, just in case.
Make a Will Already
I’m certainly no one to talk since I didn’t make a will even when my own daughter was born, but drawing up a will is so important. We had a paid-off house, two cars, and lots of savings, but not a single document that would tell someone what to do with all of it and our daughter if we both passed away in some tragic accident. Pretty scary stuff to think about!
While it’s not something that’s necessarily fun to think about, it’s something that, as adults, we need to consider, and this is especially true if you have children. It’s the responsible thing to do, and it’s so important that everyone knows what to do with your kids and your assets in case you aren’t around. If nothing else, do it for your kids.
Get Life Insurance If You’re Not Financially Independent
Although we should’ve done it as soon as we had our daughter, we didn’t get life insurance until I quit my job to stay home with her three years later. Because we were becoming a single-income household, we knew we would feel more comfortable with a term life insurance policy in place.
Getting it was so easy, and I honestly rest easier at night knowing it’s there and that it’s cheap. If you aren’t already financially independent and you have dependents who rely on your income, life insurance provides peace of mind and security.
Don’t Learn the Hard Way
We should have done a lot of things differently, especially once we became parents, but we got lucky that (so far) everything has turned out okay. It’s not fun to sit awake in bed at night and wonder what would happen to your kids and everything you’ve worked so hard for if something unexpected happened to you. So, take care of what you can now; it will help you sleep better at night and you won’t have to learn a painful lesson the hard way.
Do you have a will? What helps you keep your financial information in order and easy to find when you or a loved one might need it? How do you handle the financial chores in your family?