As many of you may already know, I served as an Active Duty Army Officer for 4 years after I graduated with my undergraduate degree from the University of Akron. My time in the service and especially my time overseas taught me many important life lessons - too many to enumerate in a single blog post. One that has consistently stayed with me over the years is the importance of having a plan and knowing how to execute and adapt the plan to fit the unforeseen circumstances that life often gives us.
From a financial planning standpoint, this can take on different forms, from cash flow and budgeting, building a well-diversified portfolio, and retirement income planning. All of these areas are vital to having a well-thought out financial plan that can adapt and change with life’s circumstances that with the help of a trusted advisor, you can execute on.
There are other areas of our lives however that need careful planning and consideration as well. And while not an all-encompassing list by any stretch of the imagination, I want to share with you some thoughts and lessons I have learned around planning for other unforeseen life circumstances. In no particular order, here are a few additional items to consider when planning for the unexpected:
- Estate plan documents: while many of us have “the basics” covered (or at least think we do), when is the last time we reviewed the documents? Has life changed since then? Have the laws behind the documents been changed? Do you know how to quickly retrieve a copy of your documents in the event of an emergency? Does anyone else in your family or friends know how to find them?
- Electronic passwords: this covers everything from bank and investment accounts, to online bill pay, to social media accounts. Where do you store them? Who knows what your passwords are, has access to them, and knows how to access the various websites in the event of an emergency?
- Personal/Family Items: in the event that you were forced to evacuate your home quickly, what items would you want to make sure you could bring with you? Prescription medication and glasses - would you remember to grab these necessary items and bring them with you in the event of an emergency? If you could not bring particular item/s, do you have the items photographed or videoed for insurance purposes?
- Important documents: the list of documents can be exhaustive, but a few important ones to consider are things like birth, marriage and divorce certificates, social security cards, and health insurance cards.
- Cell phone and charger: in today’s connected world, trying to navigate without our smartphones has become increasingly more difficult. Smartphones have really become a tool of convenience for many of us and can do everything from make emergency calls or send texts, provide GPS coordinates of a location, provide a map of the area, be a flashlight… the list is quite lengthy. And having a wireless charger or a power bank to charge your phone can prove critical in an emergency situation.
Many of the items I listed above are not overly complicated or expensive things to fix or remedy, but they all have one thing in common: they take some advanced planning and forethought. Going back to my time in the Army, when a critical situation occurs and people are stressed and panicked, the people who navigate difficult, unexpected circumstances are the ones who have planned for the unexpected and know to adapt and execute the plan. My goal in writing this post has been to encourage you to sit down and think through some of the areas of your life that I listed earlier and start to develop a plan that you and your family know and can execute when life throws something unexpected your way. As always, we are here to walk beside you and help navigate unforeseen circumstances as we are Moving Life Forward together.