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In Case of Alien Abduction: Preparing Financial Information for the Less-Engaged Spouse

When it comes to our finances, I’m more engaged than Micah is. Growing up in a family which lived from tiny paycheck to tiny paycheck stressed him out about money. But I enjoy feeling like I have some control over it. It works for us…we have discussions periodically about the everyday stuff and always before I do something big.

This is all well and good so long as we’re both around. Supposing, however that I were abducted by aliens, would Micah have all the data necessary to take immediate control of our financial lives?

He’s a smart guy and I know he could figure it out after a while. But why make it hard for him? Lynnae mentioned the idea of an “alien abduction manual” which I think sounds like a good plan.

I’m going to be doing a series over the next few weeks on some of the various topics the manual will cover.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Our bank account numbers (he can get those from the statements, but it’s easier) and online banking information.
  • Our investing information and a short philosophy of investing to help him invest in the future. A simple explanation of asset allocation and indexing. Also some suggestions for his Roth IRA or 403(b) (since he’ll probably be working for a college or university).
  • Information on our insurance, when it needs renewal, list of things that should be insured and suggestions for coverage, deductibles, and the like.
  • A short overview of the debt snowball (to be updated periodically with information about our own debt snowball).

As I said above, he’s smart but I don’t want it to be hard for him. This isn’t his area of interest and personal finance can be pretty simple once you get your head above water. Also, consider making a copy to leave for your executor in case you and your spouse die at the same time (or if you’re not married/partnered).

Why not put your alien abduction manual together along with me?

And today’s question for the readers…obviously security is an issue for some of the information here. Do you have ideas for the best way to put together and hide confidential information in a way that would still be useful? Any more ideas for sections in the manual?


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kacie April 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm

That’s a really good idea! I think I might make an alien abduction guide as well. Never know when those UFOs might be a-lurkin’ πŸ™‚

LJK@onthehomefront.wordpress.com April 8, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Just the other day I showed my husband where I keep login information for online accounts. We both use Macs, so I use Keychain.app to store some user names and passwords. I just make a Secure Note for each and type in the necessary information. Since my husband knows the password for my computer, he can access this if needed. But this doesn’t account for something happening to my laptop itself. Eventually we’ll get an external back up solution and move this info there.

Vered April 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

I like this idea. I manage it all by myself. Like you say, he will figure it out, but it will definitely be added stress at a time when he would least need that stress.
I’m on it. πŸ™‚

1stopmom April 8, 2008 at 5:43 pm

This is a really good idea. I handle everything concerning the family. Account numbers, passwords, pin numbers, and so forth.
I am going to make him up a manual tonight. I think i am going to include some information about the kids too. Social security numbers and medical information too. I have the info all on my computer but he does not use the computer a lot. So this will definitely would be useful in case something happens to me.
Thanks a lot

Money Blue Book April 8, 2008 at 5:53 pm

This is very good advice, but may also be adopted by parents as well. Recently my parents handed me a sheet of paper with a complete listing of all the names, addresses, phone, and emails of all my 1 million relatives, cousins etc. Good to have in case something happens.

Christine April 8, 2008 at 6:44 pm

In terms of hiding confidential information, B kpg zubry zwm lw yxypsz qhst fuaapasu, kg qhm tkdp.

Translation: I can teach you to cypher your messages, if you like.

Truly, I am a fount of semi-useless knowledge!

My Daily Dollars April 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Great idea! Since I’m getting married in July, I think we’ll need an alien abduction handbook for each of us. How about monthly budget? Do you keep one? That might be useful to have. . .

Christine April 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Also useful would be non-financial stuff that you may currently handle.

A list of the kinds of presents your family likes to get, for example. Or where you keep all the recipes that both of you like. Not only your account numbers, but where any cards/documents related to that account are stored. And, not to be morbid, any instructions you might want to have about your funereal arrangements (you know, in case the aliens kill you).

Et cetera, et cetera.

You should probably get Micah to make his own manual for you, of the things that are generally in his domain. There’s more to running a house than finances, after all.

stacking pennies April 8, 2008 at 11:34 pm

But don’t you worry that aliens might see that you are prepared and figure you’d be a great candidate for abduction?

I’m just sayin.

Shanti @ Antishay April 9, 2008 at 2:20 am

This is a great idea! I would suggest a deposit box at the bank, but if you don’t want to pay for one, you can get a fireproof box with a combo lock and bolt it to your house (perhaps to the floor in the back of a closet). This way a thief won’t be able to take the box or open it for the contents unless they have a wrench and a lot of time πŸ˜‰

My step-mom did this even when she was renting – I guess she figured the landlord wouldn’t notice holes in the floor in the back of the closet?

fathersez April 9, 2008 at 3:01 am

In our family, I am the $ and cents man, whilst my wife is the sense person.

I have all our account numbers, insurance policy numbers etc in my lap top, which is backed up regularly. I also do our family balance sheet and income statements yearly.

I have wanted to be able to email this to a gmail or something like that, so that my wife or the elder girls would be able to access it, should anything unexpected happen.

This post is a very timely reminder.

(Shanti’s idea is something we may finally end up with. It’s also my wife’s grandmother’s system.)

Becky@FamilyandFinances April 9, 2008 at 1:30 pm

I don’t have an alien abduction manual yet, but I do have all of our computer userids and passwords (financial and nonfinancial) in a password-protected Word document. We both know the password and it’s not the same as any of the other passwords we use for things.

It’s not a great system and we need something more complete, but it’s a start πŸ™‚

Hmmm, I just realized that my husband keeps all of his pre-marriage userid and password information in a file in his WORK email account. That wouldn’t be very helpful to me if something happened to him. I’m sure his work would lock his email up immediately. I better talk to him about it. Thanks, Mrs. Micah!!!

Kate April 12, 2008 at 1:28 am

We’ve got everything in a system of binders by areas. I take care of everything day-to-day. When we’ve sat down over finances, I try to have him look for what he needs in the system – and then fill in gaps / make available / make more obvious whatever was difficult. Actually, that sounds kind of mean of me. Hm.

Anyway, my binder system is here:

http://sortofgrownup.blogspot.com/2007/12/binder-system-of-awesome.html

NH Mom of 3 April 12, 2008 at 9:01 am

This is a really great reminder. I have a spreadsheet with online logins, passwords, and account #s where needed…but it is far from complete! I’ll be working on this project this month, and likely do a CD/DVD backup and hard copy print out to put someplace safe. Might also consider a Google Docs or keeping a draft Gmail with the attachment? Or is that not secure?

QL Girl May 6, 2008 at 2:49 pm

lol…this sounds so silly that its easy to gloss over the fact that its a brilliant/necessary idea!! I’m not married but my parents would still need to know about my assets. A good place to store it would be a safe or a deposit box at the bank…I’d feel unsafe keeping it anywhere else (as far as the account data goes). Just make sure to give your spouse/parents the combination or key!

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