50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Disaster-proof Your Finances: How to Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones and Survive Any Crisis by Ilyce R. Glink50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Disaster-proof Your Finances: How to Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones and Survive Any Crisis by Ilyce R. Glink

50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Disaster-proof Your Finances: How to Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself…

byIlyce R. Glink

Paperback | May 14, 2002

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The best time to plan for trouble—the death of a spouse, the collapse of a business, the loss of your home—is before you’re overwhelmed by it. This is especially important if you have a family or a small business or are beginning to save for your retirement. But what should you do first? In 50 Simple Steps You Can Take to Disaster-Proof Your Finances, money and real estate expert Ilyce Glink walks you step by step through the things you need to do to protect your family and your money so you can survive any crisis. Topics include:

* Getting organized: What do you have and where is it?
* Banking and credit: The credit, accounts, and emergency cash you need
* Travel: Traveling safer—and for less money
* Insurance and health: How to buy the important policies and save
* Investments: Diversifying to help you weather the tough times
* Family matters: Planning for your children’s and aging parents’ futures
* Estate matters: Wills, living wills, and more
* After the disaster: Finding the emergency aid you need

In her friendly and easy-to-understand style, Ilyce Glink shows you how to avoid the ten most common mistakes people make in planning for their future, helps you add up the numbers with simple worksheets, and guides you to the leading websites for more information. With this indispensable guide, you’ll know you’ve done the best you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
ILYCE R. GLINK’s newspaper column, “Real Estate Matters,” is syndicated nationally. She is the money reporter for WGN-TV in Chicago and a guest host for The Clark Howard Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta. Her books include 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Personal Finances, 100 Questions You Should Ask About Your Personal Finances, ...
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Title:50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Disaster-proof Your Finances: How to Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself…Format:PaperbackPublished:May 14, 2002Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0609809954

ISBN - 13:9780609809952

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Chapter 1KEEP A CALENDAR OF DAILY EVENTS UPDATEDKeeping things organized is a necessary first step toward protecting your family and your assets. Good organization starts with a daily calendar of events.There are several reasons why you should have a calendar of daily events. The first is to know what you're doing and when. A detailed calendar saves you time and money, because you don't forget to do important things. Listing daily activities tells you where everyone is at any time. For example, if it's a Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. your children might be at soccer practice or their music lesson. You're at your office. Your spouse or partner has a meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. near your home.If you know where everyone is all the time, or at least have a general sense of what they're doing, it's easy to develop a routine that friends and members of your extended family recognize. In case of an emergency, people will know where to find you. Clearly, cell phones and pagers help, too, but there are times when those useful pieces of technology are turned off, or they don't work, so it's helpful to know your family members' or friends' routines.You probably already have a paper or printed calendar posted in the kitchen or some other high-traffic area so everyone in the family can see it. That's a fine start, but make sure everyone in the family consults it daily and at the beginning of each week. Often, one adult in the family is the "calendar keeper" and the other adult is clueless. Make sure the schedule is everyone's business.Consider posting your daily events to electronic calendars as well. A Palm Pilot or another hand-held electronic calendar will allow every adult to keep track of the family daily doings, as well as all of your important phone numbers and notes about each person listed in the phone book. (Don't forget to include an address, phone number, and directions for each event.) You can block out for years to come annual events like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. You can also include a lot of information about each event, including the address, phone numbers, and other details. If your Palm is linked to your computer, you can print up a daily, weekly, or monthly calendar and distribute it. You can also keep a "To Do" list.Another option is to post your family calendar on a Web site like Yahoo!, which allows anyone with the password to log on from anywhere in the world and check on what's happening with you or your family. If you use Yahoo!'s calendar or another Web-based calendar, you can update it from anywhere in the world as well. That makes it easy to change dates from, say, the office, or home, or the business center of a hotel halfway around the world.A GOOD STARTAt the beginning of each year, write all of your important dates into your calendar. Certainly, you'll want to include birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, and dates with friends, but more important, write down dates of financial consequence. For example, if you're self-employed, you might mark down the dates you owe the IRS your estimated taxes. If you're employed by a company, you might want to check on your withholding on October 1, to give yourself enough time to make any necessary adjustments so you don't overpay the government.Consider this checklist a place to start, especially if you're self-employed.January 15: Estimated tax due (for self-employed individuals).February 1: Deadline to send your tax information to your accountant or tax preparer.March 15: Tax day for corporations (if your business is set up as a corporation and works on a calendar year); last day to make contributions to retirement plans for the previous year.April 15: Tax day for individuals; last day to make contributions to IRA, Roth IRA, for the previous year. Estimated tax due (for self-employed individuals).June 15: Estimated tax due (for self-employed individuals).September 15: Estimated tax due (for self-employed individuals).October 1: Check withholdings and adjust if necessary.December 31: Last date to open an IRA, Roth IRA, Keogh, or SIMPLE plan for the current tax year.You might also want to plug in the dates for your mortgage payments (typically the first of each month), credit card payments (you should remind yourself a week before they're due to allow time for the post office to deliver it, unless you pay electronically), school tuition bills, camp bills, and any other important financial dates.Keep in mind when you're filling out your calendar that it's easy to get caught up in the minutia of daily life. I want you to know specifically where your children are-at school from 9 to 3, and at soccer practice until 4, and then at a friend's house until 6 and then home again. You should also know fairly specifically where your spouse or partner is during the day (at the office, at the store, lunch meeting out, in court, or wherever).But you don't need to account for every minute of someone's day. That's a little too controlling for most of us. It's more important to have a general understanding of a family member's daily routine. That way, if something does happen, you'll know where to call to try and reach someone.KEEP YOUR PERSONAL ADDRESS BOOK UPDATEDMost of our personal address books look like the one I recently threw out. A small, hard -- or soft -- cover book about the size of my hand, with so many cross-outs, white-outs, and new names taped or pasted or glued over old ones that it's difficult to know who lives where and what their phone number is. Indeed, with all of the new area codes (like 678, 954, 847), it's difficult to know whether you're even calling inside the United States!If someone had to find a number in your address book in an emergency, could they even read the entries? Would they even know where to look for it? (Mine was in my home office, in a hanging file folder in a cabinet underneath my desk. Most of the time, I couldn't find it myself!)Keeping an updated list of family and friends' numbers and addresses at home and at work is essential when a crisis erupts. When my father died in a small town in Michigan, I dialed telephone numbers I knew by heart. But in an emergency, memories fail, and important numbers may be out of reach. On September 11, 2001, my New York City editor realized that her address book, with the work numbers of all her siblings--including one who worked right next to the Pentagon--was at home. It took dozens of frantic relayed calls to track everyone down and reassure them she was safe. She now has a complete set of emergency numbers at home and at work.Keeping your telephone numbers in an electronic format is a good idea for all of the reasons discussed in SimpleStep 1: It's easily accessed. You can keep much more information, including e-mail addresses, Web sites, mobile and pager numbers, addresses of several homes, faxes (in case you need to send important documents), and notes on what day your doctor has off. They're easy to update and you can print copies.Electronic phone books allow you to organize and find the information in any number of ways. You can search by last name, first name, name of company, and date (if you choose something like a Palm Pilot, which has a calendar attached). You can also sort names and phone numbers into categories, such as family, friends, doctors, financial institutions, or whatever you like.When you leave your home, you should either carry a Palm Pilot or another hand-held organizer with you that has your electronic telephone book on it, or a printout of your current phone list. Keep another printout at home, in an accessible place, and another copy in your home safe (see Simple Step 7). Update regularly.A GOOD STARTDeclare "Address Amnesia/Amnesty Day," and send mass e-mails to family and friends asking them to verify and update all their important information. (While you're at it, admit you're a little fuzzy on your nephew's birthday and snag all those dates too.)In addition to keeping you organized, your electronic phone list has several satisfying uses, including giving you a big head start when you send holiday cards or invitations to parties.On your computer, you can drag the addresses over and create mailing labels, which you can then run off on your printer. You can create return address labels and print them yourself, eliminating the need to rewrite your name over and over again.For those who remain steadfastly opposed to all things electronic, consider starting a new address book, and using the return labels on friends' cards to keep it updated. Once your address book is updated, photocopy the pages so you can keep an extra copy at home and one with you at all times.Again, there are several electronic address books-including Yahoo!, MSN.com, and at America Online-that will allow you to access your phone numbers from any computer. Ultimately, this may be your most flexible choice. I'm not concerned about someone hacking his or her way into your private information as long as you stick with the brand-name Web companies, such as these three. Privacy is crucial to keeping their clientele tuned in, and these companies have spent millions to ensure that your information is safe.CONSTRUCT AN EMERGENCY CONTACT LISTOnce you have your phone book updated, it's time to create a contact list of emergency names. Even if you have all of your phone numbers in one place, someone else looking at the list may not have the foggiest notion who these people are (unless you're using an electronic phone book and have filled in this information).Your emergency contact list should include the following information:*Your cell phone or pager numbers, and those of your spouse or partner or any other adult who lives in your household*Your parents' names and numbers (including cell and pagers)*Close friend or family member's name and numbers*If divorced, name and numbers for your ex-spouse*Doctors' names and numbers*Dentist's name and number*Attorney's name and number*If you have children, school names, addresses, and numbers*Names and numbers of your children's babysitters, or aging parents' care providers*Service providers, including lawn care (if a tree or major limb comes down on your property), snow removal, cleaning help, pet care, veterinary and animal hospital, travel agency; also, health insurance carrier and the toll-free emergency number (many health insurance companies require you to call a toll-free number within twenty-four to thirty-six hours after being admitted for emergency care), and any necessary authorization numbers (for example, the employee number for your HMO)*Other names and numbers of important people with whom you're in daily contactUpdate this list every time a telephone number, address, or cell phone number changes. Date the list, so you know how recent it is. We keep our emergency phone list in a separate file on our computer because the information is so limited and specialized. This way, we can update it instantly and print out new copies.My husband, Sam, keeps a copy of the list at his office, and I have a copy in my office. We have several copies posted in our home, including one in the drawer by the kitchen phone and one posted to the bulletin board on the other side of the kitchen, which is our family information clearinghouse (the usual collage of calendar, invitations, school lists and dates, and so on).This is the list you might want to distribute to your family or close friends when you travel. In case of an emergency, your family will then know how to get in touch with each other and the professionals and service providers who help you every day.CONSTRUCT A LIST OF ASSETS AND CONTACT NUMBERSKnowing how to reach important friends, family members, doctors, school officials, and other service providers is a good step toward linking your daily life to your financial life. The next step is to create a list of assets, along with the addresses, phone numbers, Web sites, and other contact information. This list, which you'll update whenever there is a significant change in your assets (such as the purchase of a new insurance policy or when you open or close a bank account), should be kept at home in your home safe (see Simple Step 7), with a copy in your safe deposit box (see Simple Step 8). It's also a good idea to distribute the list to the attorney who prepared your wills or the executor of your estate (see Chapter 7).What should your assets list include? Start with these items:*All bank accounts, including savings, checking, and money market accounts*All investment accounts (whether you hold mutual funds, individual stocks and bonds, or cash)*All retirement accounts, including work-sponsored retirement accounts-401(k), 403(b), 457 plans-and self-directed IRAs, Keoghs, SEPs, and SIMPLE plans.*All Roth IRA or rollover IRA accounts*Any CDs, bonds, or stocks in which you rather than a financial institution hold the certificates (and where they are located)*Policy numbers of any relevant insurance, including life insurance and disability policies. You might also include the name and number of your health, long-term care (if you have it), auto insurance, and other insurance policies*Contact information for your accountant or tax preparer, attorney, executor of your estate, and financial planner, if you have one*Mail boxes (post office boxes and any boxes at private mail companies)*Safe deposit boxes, and where they're locatedFor each of these assets, write down the name of the bank or financial institution, as well as the address, phone number, Web site, and account numbers. For insurance policies, write down the name of the institution, phone number, and policy number. For individuals, write down their names, company, address, phone number, and e-mail address.You may have assets that are not included on this list, such as a home, vacation home, rental or investment property, boats, cars, motorcycles, trailers, and perhaps an airplane. Be sure to keep the deeds or titles to these items up to date and clipped together in a safe place, like your safe deposit box.You may also want to keep a list of the credit cards that you currently own. If you choose to add the credit cards to your list of assets, be sure to include the toll-free number that anyone can call to put a stop on your account, in case you can't do it yourself.If it seems unsafe to list your credit card numbers with all of the rest of your financial information, then just list the banks that issue the credit card numbers, with the toll-free numbers. Make sure the names you use with the cards are indicated as well. You can keep copies of the actual numbers in your home safe or safe deposit box.Business OwnersIf you're self-employed or if you own a small business, it's smart to make a list of your business accounts and assets and to keep this list updated. Business owners will want to have a list of all accounts related to the business, including checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as lines of credit, a client list, and accounts payable and receivable. Make sure you include all contact information for your business's accountant, attorney, and board of directors (if you have one).