It is a new year and a good time to organize your finances. Here’s how to do it.
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Speaker 1 (00:07):
Welcome back again to 30 Minute Money. This podcast delivers action oriented smart money ideas in bite-size pieces. I'm Scott Fitzgerald from Roc Vox Recording and Production, and our luxurious downtown Bushnell's basin studios. Joining me again once more, Steve Wershing of Focused Wealth Advisors. The luxury of the studio.
I'm So excited to be back in the luxury.
Do You like your satin throw pillows behind you?
Speaker 2 (00:31):
It's like being at a resort. When I get to come here, it really and record one of these. It really is.
Speaker 1 (00:36):
The ski shooting going
Speaker 2 (00:37):
On in the back. It's trees and pina coladas.
Speaker 1 (00:39):
Alright, so we're into the new year and we're going to talk about resolutions. We
Speaker 2 (00:43):
Are, and one big resolution we're going to talk about is getting your house in order. So the new year is a good time. A lot of people do organized their houses, they get things cleaned up, they get things put away, they get things reorganized. We want to talk about how to do that with your finances. It's a good time of year to be doing it. It's a time of year when a lot of people make New Year's resolutions. And I can tell you that one of the things that keeps people from getting their plans together, one of the challenges that we have as financial planners is getting all the information pulled together. Because to develop a strategy, you need all the information. And there are a lot of people that just as soon as you say that, I'm going to need all of your account statements, all of your insurance policies, all of your, you can see people's hair stand up.
Oh my God. I'm never going to be able to get that all together. Yeah. So what I'm going to suggest is just let's make it a project in the new year to over the course of a little bit of time, gradually get yourself pulled together, gradually. Get your financial house in order, get your records in order. Not only is that important for your financial plan, but I will also throw in there because it's really relevant. It's going to be critically important if anything happens to you, if you pass away. I've heard so many stories over the years where a parent passes away and an adult child spends months tracking stuff down, looking for things, not knowing what they have or where it is. So not only will it help you, but it will help your whole family eventually when you depart this.
Speaker 1 (02:20):
It's interesting that you mentioned this because I was just having a discussion with my wife and we were talking about how her parents are the most prepared people that I've ever met. They have everything. They have their funerals already paid for, which for me, I always thought that was so morbid. But if you think about it, how many times have we heard horror stories, like you said about people who their loved ones suddenly passed away and it's just mayhem trying to get their affairs in order. So this is great advice.
Speaker 2 (02:51):
Well, and just on top of that, it's hard enough to do all that investigating and try to track things down and that stuff just add a layer of grief onto it, right? Right, exactly. Your mind is not clear to start with. You're grieving the loss of a loved one. It's the worst possible time to have to do all this kind of stuff. So it's just, listen, none of us gets out of here alive. So if we can be prepared for it and if we can be ready for it, it's not more, but it's just relieving stress on your family.
Speaker 1 (03:22):
One of my favorite lines from a band named Rush, we're only immortal for a limited time.
Speaker 2 (03:29):
That's a good line. That is a good line. I like that. I like that. So where do we start? Well, so the first place to start is pick a spot where you're going to keep all this stuff. One of the things that makes this overwhelming is that over the course of time, we tend to put this in this drawer and that drawer and things are spread out all over the place. Just pick a spot where all of your financial records are going to live. It doesn't matter where it is as long as it's one place. And then probably the easiest way to approach it is to have a group of folders divided up by the categories of your financial plan and just gradually start dropping things into those as you collect them. And so we have, our financial plans are divided into specific categories that are the different parts of the plan.
If anybody wants that list, send me an email. I'm happy to send you the list or we can post it in the show notes. But there are things like cashflow, portfolio, taxes, estate, those kinds of things. So put together a set of folders with each of those categories, put on it and just start gradually pulling things together and dropping 'em in those folders. Don't worry too much about how to organize it within the folders. Really just accumulate stuff so that over the course of a little while, you gradually have all of your financial stuff in one drawer in a limited number of folders. That's where we start. That makes it easy. One of the things that again makes it overwhelming is that people aren't sure where all this stuff is, and it's going to take time to search through drawers to try to find it.
So what I would suggest is don't think of this as one big project. Don't think of I'm going to set aside Saturday afternoon to get all my financial records together. If that kind of stuff causes stress, that approach I guarantee will mean that you won't do it. You'll do everything you can to stop it, right, to procrastinate and not do it. So what I would suggest is instead of saying, today I'm going to get all my records together, what I would suggest instead is to say, you know what? On Saturday, I'm going to spend 15 minutes pulling financial records together, just 15 minutes. That's all I'm going to do. And at the end of 15 minutes, I'll stop and then I'll find another time to do another 15 minutes.
Speaker 1 (05:44):
And if you feel like you're doing well and you want to continue, you can continue. And then you have that, going back to a previous episode where we're talking about the psychology of things, you have that sense of accomplishment. Even if it's only you did an extra 10 minutes, you feel like, wow, I really busted butt today.
Speaker 2 (06:02):
That's right. Well, yeah. And that of course, that's the trick, right? Yeah. Is if you dedicate 15 minutes to it, you're going to go for an hour probably, right? And like you said, you're going to feel like you really accomplished something. But the other thing is, even if you just do 15 minutes, do 15 minutes now and 15 minutes next week or whenever you choose, you're accomplishing a goal every time you do that. If your goal is to get all of your records together, that's hard. But if your goal is to spend 15 minutes pulling together financial records, that's easy. You can do that. And if you spend 15 minutes pulling things together, it doesn't matter how much you pull together. If you spend 15 minutes pulling it together, you've accomplished it. And then tomorrow or next week, I get to accomplish that kind of thing again. And next time I set a goal, I get a chance to accomplish that. And you just have this sequence of reinforcing accomplishments. So you just sort of get in the habit of accomplishing these things and you end up feeling better about it.
Speaker 1 (07:01):
Now, what about the online aspect of all this? And we're talking about the physicals, papers, folders and cabinets and stuff like that.
Speaker 2 (07:08):
It's an excellent point. I'm really glad you brought that up because these days that's a big deal. So these days, it's not all just paper records. In fact, I moved not long ago, and I am still getting surprised every once in a while because somebody says, oh, I don't have an updated credit card number for you and yours is expiring. I realize I never got a new credit card. I never changed my address electronic. So yes, the electronic stuff is really important. So there are two things about that that I'll suggest. One is, I've suggested it before. I think using a password manager is incredibly important first, because that way you can have different passwords for everything, which is incredibly important. If you're somebody who says, well, I use one of four things for a password, and somebody hacks into one of those things, well now they have access to a quarter of the sites that you log into. Everything should have its own unique password. And really the only practical way of doing that is with a password manager. But with a password manager, it'll also set those passwords for you so that they can all be long, random kinds of strings that nobody would ever guess. And it just makes it easier because it will fill in, when you go to a website, it'll automatically fill that in and you could just go in. You don't have to worry about where your passwords are. And it's
Speaker 1 (08:29):
Stored in the password manager and not in the browser necessarily or in, okay.
Speaker 2 (08:35):
Yep. Most of 'em are stored in the cloud. So even if somebody broke onto your hard drive, they couldn't find it. And most of them also in crypto, that stuff. So even the people at the password manager company can't see what they are.
Speaker 1 (08:48):
Yeah, that's good. That's good
Speaker 2 (08:50):
Advice. The one thing that you need to have is a master password, and that's what you want to have in a folder someplace so that if anything happens to you, somebody can get access to that password manager that will tell them not only what your passwords are for everything, but it will also tell them what websites you go to. So all of your banks, all of your financial institutions, your insurance companies, all of that stuff should be in your password manager and they could just scan down the list and figure out where you might have accounts. We
Speaker 1 (09:19):
Don't think about this. I mean, I don't think about this that often until you bring up all the different, and I just think about with this business and myself personally, how many different websites I have logged into. And thankfully my bank tells me to change the password every 30 days. It's like you got to change your password and they won't let you put an old one up again.
Speaker 2 (09:42):
Speaker 1 (09:42):
Have to actually keep thinking about it and change the password every 30 days, but the magnitude of how many passwords that we all have to deal with. So that's why this password manager is a really fantastic idea. I'm going to start using one of those.
Speaker 2 (09:58):
And it used to be the case that we would have a bank and we would have a retirement plan, but now we've, we've got six credit cards and we've got two or three banks and we've got investment accounts over here, and we've got that insurance policy. I mean, just like you said, it can rapidly become dozens of different sites that you have access to that
Speaker 1 (10:21):
Would need. But then now that you have a password manager, now you have to be able to let someone else
Speaker 2 (10:29):
Take care of that. That's why I say, Keith, the one thing you need to put in the paper file is your master password. Oh,
Speaker 1 (10:35):
Right in the file so that somebody else who can take over for you can find
Speaker 2 (10:39):
It. Exactly. Exactly. And so you want to have folders for each of the financial categories. One of those might be passwords or websites or something like that. And in there, and of course, you'd want to make this a really secure place to store it because if anybody got your master password, they could get into everything. So you want to be very careful about that. You want to maybe not leave it someplace obvious, but you'll want to keep a record of that someplace so that somebody gets it. And then you'll want to give them a letter that if anything happens to me, open this envelope and read it. And that's where you would tell people, tell whoever your next of kin, your spouse, your adult child or whatever, where you can find all these records. So that's important too. So have that set of folders. Include the master password for your password manager.
You might create a directory that says, here are all the things that I've got in these folders. And then write a letter in an envelope that says, if anything happens to me, open this. And this will give you the instructions on where everything is. And if you can do that, if you spend some time doing that, and again, do it in little bite-sized pieces because we don't want it to become overwhelming over the course of time, as you get all that stuff together, it will be less overwhelming, it will be less intimidating. And if you want to look something up or if you want to go to a financial planner, you'll have everything all in one spot and it will decrease your stress, make life a lot easier, and also help make you feel a lot more in control. So that's how you get your financial house in order
Speaker 3 (12:28):
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Speaker 1 (13:54):
Getting your house in order, what's your 30 minute action item?
Speaker 2 (13:57):
30 minute action item. Develop that list of categories and create labeled folders for each category.
Speaker 1 (14:03):
And people, if they need the list, they can email you and get the list from you directly.
Speaker 2 (14:09):
Speaker 1 (14:10):
Alright, that was a very informative episode. Thank you, Steve. Yes. 30 minute Money is three zero minute dot money. And of course, if you'd like to get in touch with Steve at Focused Wealth Advisors, right below in the show notes, you'll see a link to Steve's calendar so you can book your meeting with Steve. I'm Scott Fitzgerald from ROC Vox Recording and Production. Thank you for visiting us on 30 Minute Money.