Welcome to Day 6 of the 7-Day Financial Wellness Kickstart series!
If you haven’t read Day 5, click here to review.
You work hard for your money. It’s vital to safeguard the wealth you’re creating. And fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do.
|Day 6 Money mantra||I am creating generational wealth.|
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn ways to protect yourself and gain greater peace of mind in the following areas:
- your identity,
- your assets,
- your loved ones,
- and your financial legacy.
Let’s get started.
Protect your identity
I was almost a victim of an account takeover.
A few years ago, I was at the gas station and my credit card wouldn’t work. I called the credit card company and was directed to the fraud department. I learned that someone had attempted to change my address, phone number, and email, triggering their system to flag my account.
Fortunately, it was all sorted out. But I was advised to place a fraud alert on my credit report.
The reality of life: keeping our personal information secure continues to be challenging. There always seems to be a constant stream of data breaches. And a consistent attempt by scammers to steal personal information.
Identity theft is when your information is used to commit fraud, such as opening new credit accounts, applying for loans, and using your identity to receive benefits. It’s the type of fraud that uses your name, social security number, or credit card information.
So, what can you do?
- Set up account alerts. Many creditors, banks, and credit unions offer alerts to notify you of transactions ranging from deposits to withdrawals to purchases and payments. You can quickly spot issues before they become major problems.
- Safeguard your Social Security Number. Don’t share your number with anyone who isn’t authorized. Always ask why your social security is required.
- Use credit cards for purchases. With credit cards, you get more legal protection compared to debit cards. In the event of fraud, you’re not out of money in your checking account. Many credit card issuers offer zero liability and an easy dispute process.
- Monitor your credit report regularly. Use a credit report monitoring service or app to help you. Many services track your social security number on the dark web as well. They monitor important changes in your credit report and notify you of any suspicious activity.
Be on the lookout for scammers
There are numerous scams, from website spoofing to email phishing, from text messages to phone calls with people threatening arrest for not paying a bill. The biggest scams involve fraudsters pretending to be US government officials. The IRS and other government agencies have stated they will never call, text, or email asking for payment or identity verification.
But it doesn’t end there. Scammers will hack your friend’s social media accounts and lure you into giving personal information that may be enough to take over your online financial accounts.
How can you protect yourself?
Be socially aware.
Don’t share personal information on social media, like the financial services you use, or post answers to questions that can be used to guess your passwords.
Watch out for email, phone, and text scams that pressure you into clicking a link or asking you to share logins or authentication codes.
Keep your passwords unique.
Don’t reuse passwords. Keep them unique for each website. Why? Because scammers can hack a company database with your passwords and then use that information to access other accounts.
Now that you have some tactics to protect your identity, how about insurance to protect your assets?
Insurance is really about mitigating risks.
And you don’t need a lot of insurance. You just need the right insurance type and amount to protect yourself from unforeseen hardships and losses.
In this section, you’ll learn about the different types of insurance to consider.
Protect your money
With bank failures in the news, it’s vital to understand deposit insurance. The FDIC (banks) and NCUA (credit unions) offer insurance to participating financial institutions to protect your money from bank or credit union failures. FDIC and NCUA are independent federal agencies that govern and supervise financial institutions. Verify that your bank or credit union is insured.
Protect your income
With disability insurance, you can supplement the loss of your income when you’re injured, sick, or unable to work. Employers often offer disability insurance. Find out how much your employer covers you. It can also be purchased personally through an insurance company.
Protect your stuff
Review your homeowners, renters, and auto insurance policies to verify how much of your stuff is covered in the event of an accident, disaster, or emergency.
Protect your loved ones
Consider how much life insurance is needed to cover your financial obligations in the event of your passing. Speaking with an insurance broker can be helpful. They can guide you on the type of life insurance that fits your needs.
Protect your senior years
It’s a stretch for many to think about life 20-30 years from now. But, it’s crucial to consider long-term care insurance for those later years. These coverages can protect your savings and investments from being drained to cover nursing home stays or home health care support.
Now that you have a better basic understanding of insurance, it’s time to protect the wealth you’re creating.
Protect your financial legacy
With some preparation, you can reduce loved ones’ stress and their time and money by outlining your goals for your assets.
I want you to think about your future.
What happens if you get sick, incapacitated, or die?
Who will make decisions for you? Who will carry out your wishes? Who will determine how your assets are divided after your passing?
Many people don’t want to think about these things. But, It’s crucial you do.
Here’s something important to know: if you don’t have a plan for your assets, the government has a default plan. So, don’t leave it off to the bureaucracy to decide.
And you don’t need a “ton of money,” either. Everyone can benefit from a legacy plan.
There are five things you can do to protect your legacy:
Establish a will and estate plan.
It’s important you have your wishes written down and witnessed by a professional. A will is not just for rich people. It can be used for people with simpler finances. For more complex finances, estate planning may be necessary. It might be beneficial to work with an estate planning attorney from your state.
You can also speak with tax experts, a certified public accountant (CPA), and a certified financial planner specializing in estate planning.
A trust is a legal arrangement through which a trustor manages a trustee’s assets for the good of one or more beneficiaries. A trust can be used to distribute your assets after your death. It’s more often used to minimize taxes and avoid probate.
Having a power of attorney.
A POA is a legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. A power of attorney can grant complete authority or can be limited to certain acts. It can be set for certain periods of time but ceases after your death. Having a POA protects you in the event you’re ill, hospitalized, or unable to make decisions.
Consider these types: financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will. These legal documents help you name someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf.
Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.
When you hold a title for an asset with someone else, like a house or car, then your stake of the asset transfers directly to the surviving owner. Basically, the joint owner of the property inherits the assets without having to go through probate.
Adding beneficiaries to accounts.
There are financial accounts you can assign a beneficiary to, like a checking, savings, or brokerage account. In the event of your death, the accounts legally pass to the named beneficiary without going through probate. It can ensure a smoother transition, lower costs, and fewer steps.
Payable of death banking accounts: Add PODs for all your bank accounts, including savings, checking, certificates, money markets, or any other accounts you have with a financial institution.
Transfer on death investing accounts: Add a TOD beneficiary for your stocks, bonds, and brokerage accounts.
For retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs, complete a beneficiary designation form when you enroll and review/change beneficiaries for any life events (like marriage, divorce, children, etc.).
For life insurance, designate a beneficiary for your life insurance.
For annuities, you can add a beneficiary to receive your annuities by designating who will receive any money left after your death.
And remember to update the beneficiaries on these accounts as your life changes.
You did it! That covers today’s lesson on protecting your assets.
We covered a lot of information today. You don’t have to tackle all of this at once, but knowing they exist is a good first step.
Day 6 Exercise
For today’s assignment, I want you to complete the exercise in the workbook.
- Complete each task and indicate the date done. Add notes if necessary to follow up on pending items.
|Breathwork exercise: 4-to-4 breathing|
|Breathwork can quickly and positively alter your feelings.|
Today’s practice is the 4:4 breathwork. You’ll inhale deeply for 4 counts and exhale slowly for 4 counts. Repeat 5 times.
1. Take a comfortable seated position and plant your feet on the floor.
2. Relax your shoulders.
3. Envision the tension between your eyebrows to release.
4. Take a deep breath in through the nose for 4 (count up: 1, 2, 3, 4).
5. Pause at the top for 1 count.
6. Release the breath slowly through the nose for 4 (count down: 4, 3, 2, 1).
7. Repeat 4 more times.
In this lesson, you learned how to protect your identity and are now more knowledgeable about insurance and legal protections for your money and legacy.
And that’s it for today! See you tomorrow for Day 7.
With you on the journey,
Author of Happy Money Happy Life and Founder of The Smile Money
Chapter 11, Living Mindfully, in You Only Live Once
Access hundreds of articles on each of these pillars on thesmilemoney.com/protect. Go ahead and dive deeper into areas you need help in right away.
And find the best apps to protect your money on phroogal.com.
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Day 7 Preview: Live well–Living a more experiential and purposeful life
Tomorrow is the final day of the Kickstart series. You’ll learn how to live well with better financial health that supports a more meaningful and purpose-driven life.
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