Simplify your personal finances by building a financial fortress

If you are looking to simplify your personal finances a good way to help you simplify them would be to build a financial fortress. Webster dictionary defines a

Fortress as A fortified place, especially a large, permanent military stronghold that often includes a town or a place or source of refuge or support

I am not recommending you build a large structure to hold all of your financial assets because the global financial markets are about to crumb. I am suggesting you put things in place to help protect your personal financial assets which would be like building your own personal fortress. By having a financial fortress you protect your assets against the unexpected as well as the expected. Having this fortress in place will prepare you for any situation that is throw at you financially. Its always better to be prepare than unprepared it always make the situation easier or more manageable to handle.

Here are financial attacks that your financial fortress can help protect you against:

Attack of Identity thief
Everyday you hear about someone’s identity being stolen. Having your identify stole is not a situation you want to deal with. So build a ID thief fortress with the following:

  • Set up account alerts to help monitor your account activities
  • Shred your financial documents
  • Sign up for ID protection services that monitor your credit bureau

Unexpected expense attack

It will happen one day you just can not predict when it will happen or how much damage it will caused.  What I am referring to is the unexpected repair, medical expenses, or any other expenses that you did not plan for.  To protect against this type of attack you should build an emergency fund fortress.  This fortress should be stocked with enough cash to cover any unexpected expenses.  How much to funded it with is always the question.

Job Loss

Many people have dealt with this issue over the past two years.  But how many of them were prepared for not having a job.  Yes the easy solution would be to just go get another job but what if there are no jobs available what do you do then.  Building a job loss fortress can help.  Here are something you should do to build that fortress:

  • Have multiple sources of income
  • Have a job loss plan in place

Financial Markets Attack

This is something you can also not predict but you can build a fortress to help protect you from this attack.  A meltdown in the markets can reduce your net worth within a couple days and can also impact on your future plans as to when you will be able to retire.  Here are some tips to build your financial markets fortress:

  • Invest in multiple assets classes
  • Reallocate your accounts regularly
  • Revisit your investment goals and objectives often

Natural Disaster or Health attack

We can not predict when a natural disaster will hit or when your may become sick.  But you can build a insurance fortress to protect you against these natural disaster and health issues.  Review your insurance coverage to make sure you and your family are adequately coverage.  Not having the proper insurance can place a significant financial burden on your personal finances.

Having these financial fortresses in place will help you protect your personal finances as well as help you simplify your personal finances.

TAKE ACTION

Look to see what financial fortress that you should build to protect against a financial attack.

What are other financial fortresses that should be build to protect your personal finances as well as help simplify them?

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Do you have a Emergency Financial File to simplify your personal finances?

Do you are your spouse manage all of your financial matters? If so what happens to your personal finances if the other is hospitalized or unexpectedly passes away? Would the non-CFO of the house know what to do to manage the family finances? In my post Financially Prepare your Spouse in order to Simplify I explain what the non-spouse needs to know in order to manage the family finances. Now its time to take it a step further. In order to make it even easier for the non-CFO spouse, you must create a file to explain what needs to be done to manage the family finances. I would label this file Emergency Financial File. This file should be filed with all of your other financial documents or in a location your spouse has access to and can quickly put their hands on it when needed. I would even purchase a red folder so it stands out from all of your other files.

This file should contain the following information:

Passwords and Login IDs
If you are truly trying to simplify your personal finances most of your personal financial information should be accessible online. You want to leave a listing of all of your passwords and log in information in the file. Make sure you are updating the file when you change any of your passwords.

Account Numbers
You want to leave a listing of all account numbers. This should include deposit accounts numbers, credit card account numbers, investment account numbers, retirement account numbers and any other financial related account number. If you have multiple banking relationships be sure to identify each bank as well. You don’t want them guessing what account number goes with what bank. A simple way to do this would be to make a copy of the first page of each account statement at least once a year and place the copy in the file.

Contact Names
You want to make a list of all financial contacts and place them in the file. These contacts should include all insurance contacts, accountants, attorney, investment advisors, and bank contacts. Many of these contact names should be on your account statements.

Location of assets
By keeping a copy of the statements this will help identify the location of assets but don’t forget those assets that you may hold in a safe deposit box or in personal home safe. Many individuals hold important financial documents, wills, jewelry and stock and bond certificates in deposit box or safe. You want to identify where those assets and documents are held. NOTE: If you hold assets or documents in safe deposit box make sure your spouse has access to the box and knows where the key is located.

Listing of all expenses
Create a list of all expenses and due dates so if your spouse had to step in and take over the finances. They would be aware of what needs to be paid and when it is due. Yes a bill may come in the mail but its better to provide them a list so they know what needs to be paid and when.

TAKE ACTION
Begin gathering all of the information discussed above so you can create your Emergency Financial File immediately. You just never know when it will be needed. The more information you provide the easier it will be on your spouse or whoever is left to manage your personal finances.

Remember take one step at a time to simplify your personal finances.

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What are your Personal Financial Ugly Ducklings?

In order to simplify your personal finances, you must identify your financial ugly ducklings and turn them into financial swans.  What I mean by this is if you want to simplify your financial life so you can manage your finances better you must identify your bad financial habits which I refer to as your ugly ducklings and take action to turn this bad financial habits into a positive financial situation or what I refer to as financial swan.
Here are some ugly ducks you can turn into swans which will help you simplify your personal finances:

No financial goals – You have no long-term or short-term personal finance goals.  If you establish goals you can simplify your personal finances quicker.

Not living on a budget - You do not set a monthly or annual budget.  You are just spending money without setting limits.  Establish a budget will enable you to reach your financial goals you set and help you take control of your finances. Gazelle budget is a simple solution to help establish a monthly budget.

Not planning for the unexpected – You do not have an emergency plan in place in case of an emergency.  Establishing an emergency fund is like the goose that laid the golden egg when you are finances are in a bind due to an unexpected situation.

Not planning – You have not planned for the expected things that you know will happen in your life.  Read this to find out what you can plan for.  Establishing a plan for those expected financial situations will take the pressure off of you and your finances because you have planned for them in advance.

No estate plan – You have no plan in place to handle your assets upon your death.  Read this if you do not believe you need a will.  You do not know when it will occur but you can plan for it.  Establishing a plan prior to your death is much easier on your family.  You may not see the benefit but your family will definitely benefit and save some money in the process.

Too many credit cards – You have more than 3 credit cards with balances on them and you do not have plan in place to reduce your debt.  Read this to make sure you are practicing safe credit card usage. Reducing the number of cards you carry and the outstanding balances on them will simplify your personal finance.  This is one ugly duckling that you must turn into a swan rather quickly.  If not it can get uglier rather quickly.

Not automating – You are still not using online banking, still cashing your payroll checks, or mailing you bill payments.  Establish online banking which will enable you to pay your bills on line.  Setup automatic deposit of your payroll checks to simplify your finance and save you time.

Too much paper – Is your mailbox screaming for relieve because you receive so much mail?  Go paperless is more convenient  and will save you time.

Forgetting due dates – Do you seem to forget the due dates of your bills or just forget to put the bill in the mailbox.  Setting up your bills on your credit card or bill pay service will help you eliminate forgetting to pay your bill on time as well as save you from paying those late fees.

Living beyond your means - Trying to keep up with the your co-workers, neighbors and friends is causing you some financial stress but having the latest or newest whatever is more important.   Stop trying to keep up.  It will reduce your stress and enable you to live a healthier and wealthier financial lifestyle.  It will trust me.

ACTION STEP

Take some time to review your current financial situation and identify your financial ugly ducklings and take action by turning the ugly duckling into a financial swan.  Just like a duckling will not turn into a swan over night is the same with your personal finances.  You must take one step at a time but if you take action I am sure your ugly duck will turn into a swan quicker than you planned.

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