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I Need to Organize My Financial Accounts!

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I need to get organized! I was paying bills this weekend and did some other financial work and I struggled to remember passwords for the various accounts I need to log onto. My main bank account is easy to remember because I check it often and I can pay most of my bills through my bank’s portal. But I also have brokerage and investment accounts, insurance, credit cards, cell phones, etc. It is a hassle trying to keep everything organized and remember each site’s URL, screen logon, password, etc. Especially when each site has a different password requirement, forces you to change your password on a regular basis, etc.

My goal for the coming month is to organize all of our logon information so either my wife or I can easily step in and take care of any financial situation as it happens – without struggling to get the information necessary to do so.

It is important for both of us to be able to access all of our accounts in the event of an emergency. If something happened to me, I would want my wife to be able to handle everything from a financial standpoint, and not have to go through lawyers or other hassles to get the account information.

Here is the account information I plan on gathering:

  • Account Name (bank, credit card, etc.)
  • Name on account
  • Account number
  • Website URL, screen name, password
  • Phone numbers
  • Due dates (if a regular bill),
  • any other specific information.

Here are the financial accounts I plan on adding:

  • Bank Accounts – We have a joint account and individual accounts at the same bank, plus I have an account with Capital One 360 and a business bank account.
  • Brokerage and Investment Accounts – We have our IRAs through our bank, and we each have a TSP account (government version of a 401k), I have a 401(k) through my day job, a Solo 401(k) for my small business, and I have accounts through Vanguard and ShareBuilder.
  • Credit Cards – we have them through our bank and a couple others.
  • Mortgage information
  • Insurance – Homeowner’s, auto, and health
  • PayPal
  • Prosper (Prosper review)
  • Lending Club (Lending Club review)
  • Paycheck website – my company publishes our paycheck stubs on-line
  • Utilities – cable/internet, sanitation, water, gas, electricity, etc.
  • Other accounts and/or debts

Non-financial accounts:

  • Social Security Numbers – for all family members
  • Automobile information – VIN, License plate number
  • Titles and deeds - cars, property, etc; where they are located and other necessary info
  • Driver’s license number - expiration date
  • Medical contact info – doctors, dentists, etc.
  • Cell phone – account number, logon, password, voice mail password, etc.
  • Small Business – website info, logons, passwords, advertisers, etc.
  • Airline miles and various rewards programs
  • Ebates – A website to save money with on-line purchases (Ebates review – free bonus for new accounts)
  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • E-mail accounts – personal and professional
  • Other account information

How to secure financial account information

I realize there is a lot of sensitive information in this list – enough to be any identity thief’s dream come true if he got a copy of this list. That is why I plan on encrypting it. I have read about a piece of free software called KeePass, which is designed to do just this. My wife and I would share a password and all the data contained in our list would be secured by that password. We can also carry it on a USB drive, or upload it to a computer server so we can access it from wherever we are.

I admit, I have not used KeePass yet; this is on my to-do list. So while I can’t give it a full recommendation until I have tried it out, this does look promising. If anyone has information about KeePass or similar software, I welcome you to leave it in the comment section. Also, if you think there is anything I missed on the list of items I plan on tracking, feel free to leave that in the comments section as well. I will add it to this list.

Here are several other personal finance bloggers who wrote about similar topics and inspired me to get organized:


Published or updated April 12, 2013.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Micah

I’m working on writing something about this, too. But not for my blog. Your piece reminded me about mortgages and insurance, I’ll remember to include those too…I just don’t think about it.

Juggling accounts is pretty annoying for us right now. I like that my ING account is now set up with a “Saver ID” which I chose myself. Instead of a long number to memorize!

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2 PT from Prime Time Money

I found it helpful to include the following on my list:

Account – simpky the name
Limit – any credit limit associated with the account
Type of Payment – fixed, variable, or annual
Due Date
UserID
Current Password
AutoPay – yes/no; if yes, I explain what account the money is withdrawn from
Online Statement – online vs paper
Email – what email account is on the account

Good post. I may share more about my setup soon.

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3 PT from Prime Time Money

Oh, and we didn’t use KeePass, we just use GoogleDocs and only share with ourselves. Crazy?

You should be able to password protect any excel file. I don’t know about encription though.

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4 matt good

I use KeePass for basically the same thing you are thinking about doing – and it is a great little program. I have a couple comments you may find helpful, however:

#1 – BACK THE SUCKER UP. In multiple places. If you have a hard time remember your passwords now, just wait until you never have to type them again. Hard drives crash, USB drives can be zapped pretty easily too… Backing up data is too large and important of a topic to go into in detail here, but suffice it to say, its important.

#2 – Now that you’re going to be keeping track of these passwords using a helpful tool, it might be a good time to go through them and change your passwords to more secure ones, if they aren’t already. Different ones for different accounts, preferably, so it would limit the damage if one password becomes compromised. Note that doing this also makes doing #1 even more important…

But yeah, I use KeePass and like it. I’m just waiting for Google to roll out a free data backup service (hopefully some day) to solve #1 so that I can go crazy with #2.

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5 SingleGuyMoney

I use Billeo. I am able to store all my passwords and also save screenshots whenever I pay a bill online or if I just need to save a webpage.

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6 Ryan

PT, great tips on both comments. I think the Google Docs idea is a pretty good one. It also allows you to have your info anywhere, and you can’t lose it in the event of a fire, etc.

Matt, Great info! I agree about backing things up, and do it regularly. I also use strong passwords – big/small letters, numbers, symbols, etc. I also have several different variations and use some that are not related at all. I highly doubt anyone will guess the passwords just by knowing my birthday and favorite color. Not sure I could stop a brute force attack, but really, who can? If they have the right software, they could probably carck the password and get in eventually.

Google may not have a free data backup process yet, but you can always zip a file and e-mail it to yourself and archive it. That would be a great way to store data.

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7 Ryan

SingleGuy, I will have to check Billeo out. Thanks for the comment. :)

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8 CiaranFromChance

Hey Ryan,

I stumbled this article a couple days ago. A few old fashion ideas on securing your passwords. Not sure if you’d entertain any of these but figured I’d throw it out there. Make sure your spouse knows your passwords

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9 Susy

I use 1Password. It will even generate strong passwords for you. It makes everything so much easier for me! You can also set up different account for each website. I have my library card info and my husbands on there, then if I want to renew his library card I just choose his in the file and it opens up. I LOVE IT!

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10 matt good

It’s definitely true that no solution is totally safe – if someone is super-determined, they’ll be able to crack it. Same is true with physical security (i.e. your home). The approach I’ve taken is to make it hard enough for troublemakers so that it’s not worth their trouble. It’s likely that there’s somebody else they could mess with that would be easier, so why bother with me?

And the emailing it to yourself is a great idea – but you’d want to do that nearly every time you add a new username or password… Which is a little more hassle than I’d like. It’s still a smart idea – but I really wish google with come up with a better way. They’re so good at doing that sort of thing.

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11 onarock

Keepass…what a great idea. I am about to install it right now.

I have most of my important info locked in a safe. If anything happens to me, my hon will still be lost, as he is not a computer type of guy. Everything can be done by phone as well, so all of the phone numbers are in the safe as well.

k

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