Time to think
Lying in a hospital bed for 4 days, I had a lot of time to think.
I thought mostly about my wife of 27 years and how she would get along financially, without me.
You see, I’ve always been the one that managed every aspect of our finances. If there was an equivalent statement to “I just put gas in it and it goes” that summed up our financial life, at least for her.
She’s always been ok with that, and about 10 years ago, I came up with the idea of providing her with printed quarterly updates that detailed everything. That has worked out well but some crazy thoughts run through your head when you think about your own demise.
- How will she figure out all the passwords to more than 30 financial accounts?
- How will she know what to invest in?
- What about managing the taxes?
- How do I ensure that my wishes will be acted upon?
You get the picture. We’ve had a will for many, many years, but some of the players have changed or I’ve changed my mind about them. It needs adjusting. The point is, that things change. Especially when people move in and out of your busy life. I believe these types of changes or non-traditional heirs, will only increase in the future.
That was what led me to Wealthfront. Let me say, this is not a pitch for Wealthfront or an endorsement of their services. I do happen to like them, personally, but this is about a tool that consolidates information and provides us with a 40,000 foot overview of our finances.
With that said, I’ve been aware of “one stop” shop resources for finances in the past, like MINT, etc. but I was always reluctant to put all my digital eggs in a single repository. Mainly through fears about hacking. However, this was an unexpected hospital stay, that really hit me out of the blue. After losing a sibling to cancer last year, I was particularly sensitive to the idea of long term planning.
At the very minimum, Wealthfront could act as a “dashboard” that would provide pointers to the account balances and the institution. I like the “big picture” of total net worth and how it allows for flexible adjustments to large assets like real estate. It also provides interesting planning tools, not just for retirement but for any goal you have in mind. Overall, I’m a latecomer to using something like this, but the need was born out of necessity. I’m also a big fan of Wealthfront’s tax loss harvesting concept, which can boost your returns over time. In addition to being an overall repository for your account balance information, they also invest money for clients.
Since implementing that account setup, I sleep a lot better at night, and am better prepared for the unexpected. I don’t worry that some small account balance of $2K will go unnoticed and show up on one of those state registry’s of “lost accounts” years from now.
How do you review the big and small picture with your partner?