These three financial planning tasks can make your snow day very productive. After shoveling the walk and building the snowman, try to complete one or two of these tasks. You know you’ve put them off. So why not take advantage of the snow day to get them done once and for all.
1. Obtain and Review Your Free Credit Reports
Use the official site – Annualcreditreport – to get your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). This task shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.
Compare the reports to make sure they are accurate. Search for any inconsistencies. Even if you don’t anticipate needing credit soon, your auto insurance can be affected by your credit score. The back of each credit report shows the steps to take to fix any errors.
It is important to make sure there are no mistakes. If there are, then fix them before they hurt you when you really need to get credit.
You are allowed to get your credit reports each year for free. It gets easier to review them once you’ve reviewed them several years in a row.
2. Compile an Inventory of Your Personal Property
Pull together an inventory of your personal belongings for your home owners or renter’s insurance. It is much easier to collect on a claim if you have documentation of your belongings on a room-by-room basis.
Each room should have a list of property. Take photos of the room and make a list of its furniture and other contents. Include manufacturers, brand names, and model numbers where possible (especially on furniture, electronics, and appliances). Remember to open drawers and closet doors to list items such as clothing, sports equipment, tools, china, linens, outdoor furniture, holiday decorations, and hobby materials. Include any old receipts for the value of each piece of property.
Making this inventory also can be a fun way to get the whole family involved. Each person can organize a room (or two) and get it ready to be inventoried.
Store a copy of your home inventory in a safe place away from your house. You can keep an encrypted pdf version in the cloud or as a file you email to yourself.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a basic checklist. There are a number of free apps including the NAIC’s app and one called Know Your Stuff. Your insurer may also have one. But don’t get too hung up on the app.
Take one room at time and make sure the list is complete. You may want to start with your bedroom because these are the things you’ll need quickly in case of fire or home damage.
3. Make a List of your Online Passwords
Given that nearly every aspect of our lives is online it is crucial to make a list of your important passwords, online accounts, and other digital property. And if you are temporarily incapacitated, a loved one should know the list’s location. I made my list the other day and I was surprised at how many different accounts I have accumulated recently.
You will want to include things like your voicemail, your cell phone, computers, tablets, and security systems. Not only include your email accounts, but your social networking, instant messaging and cloud storage accounts too. Other online credentials include your bank accounts, credit cards, loan (mortgage, auto), and brokerage accounts. Also include your medical records, insurance carriers, utilities, online shopping and auction accounts, video games, and online music, eBook video and other media accounts.
This link provides a nice reminder of other possible online accounts.
Like the home inventory, keep an encrypted copy close by and available for those who may need access to your accounts if you are temporarily incapacitated.
Use your snow day to complete these three financial planning tasks. They don’t take that long and they will protect you in the long run.