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Senior Correspondent

The phone rang. I woke up out of a rare siesta and clicked on my cell.

Through the hysteria, I figured out that someone had died. Unexpectedly. A close family member.

That started another journey into the life of a woman who would soon be facing her financial reality. Good or bad, it was one more thing to deal with …

(And for me, a journey back into the family fold, to go help … ) 

Over the years she had taken the reins of the family finances because her husband’s career took him overseas regularly on multi-month trips.

But he had been retired for ten years and had taken back the bill paying, insurances, investing and all other numbers-related tasks.

Will this story have a happy ending? Yes, as happy as can be expected under the circumstances. (Remember, she’s related to me, Ms. “Financial Control and Peace of Mind.”)

But what is already a difficult time of transition will be burdened by an extra — and unnecessary — stress.

So I ask you:

  • Who handles the bill paying in your household? If not you, do you at least have a list of all repeat payments, pay due dates and online access URLs and passwords for all accounts? What about payments that come due infrequently, like taxes and insurances?
  • What is the status of all your insurances? Health? Life? Long-term disability? Home? Car? What carriers are they each with? What is the payment cycle? Contact information?
  • If something happens to your life partner, are any critical accounts frozen? If so, for how long? And do you always have a financial buffer to be able to wait out any delays?

  • How will your finances be affected by the lost income of your partner? Will it affect your lifestyle exactly when you’re least prepared to change? And should you consider bringing your hard-and-fast expenses into line with what you could afford on your own? Of course this goes for both of you …

The purpose of these questions is not to be morbid. Or to propose living small.

Once again, my purpose is for you to look at your finances realistically and enjoy the tremendous peace of mind that comes with full knowledge. Truth is, that’s living large.

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