If you’re married and are temporarily unable to manage your money due to illness or other unanticipated situations, your spouse will likely step in and pay your payments. But what if you’re not married? You might miss bill payments, ruin your credit score, and have financial trouble if you don’t have a strategy.
Becky Blanton of Charlottesville, Virginia, experienced this when she was abruptly hospitalized for two weeks. She missed a few bill payments since no one could pick up the slack. To make matters worse, Blanton continues, “My auto insurance was not paid, so it was terminated, and before I could acquire new insurance, my license was suspended when the insurance company reported the cancellation to the state.”
Organize your Responsibilities
To build a backup plan, you must first determine what financial responsibilities must be completed monthly. It involves keeping track of all bills and when they must be paid. Pay special attention to expenses where a missing payment might be difficult to recover, advises Courtney Smith, owner of Benefit Payee Services, a Denver-based daily money management firm. If you miss a life insurance payment, your coverage may lapse.
Decide what can be Automated
According to Stefan, putting your money on autopilot is a brilliant idea. Have your expenses paid straight from your bank account if you’re comfortable with it, and set up automatic monthly transfers to your employer’s retirement plan and savings account. Another strategy to avoid a pay gap is paying bills in advance, which Blanton does. “Paying an additional $25 to $50 each month on your electricity bill accumulates up to a month’s credit in case of an emergency,” she advises.
Determine who will be your Point of contact
If you don’t want payments debited from your accounts regularly, you’ll need to identify someone who can take over your financial commitments in an emergency. It should be a responsible person. “You want to make sure your designated person is someone you can trust and share your personal information with,” says Heather Murray, education and regulatory compliance manager at Advantage Credit Counseling Service in Pittsburgh. Then bring it up with them to see if they’d be ready to help.
Consider hiring a Pro
Some people choose not to entrust their cash to relatives or friends. In such a situation, Smith, the American Association of Daily Money Managers president, recommends hiring a daily money manager to take care of your bills. You may even engage them in advance, making a “pre-made agreement” with Smith so that the money manager knows what to do if you need them in the future.
Organize the Logistics
Create a file or electronic document containing instructions and information your backup person will need, such as online account usernames and passwords. Also, make it crystal clear what you want them to do. “It’s critical to spell out this arrangement’s expectations,” Murray adds.
Ascertain that they have all they require to do the task. Will you hand over your checkbook? Will they be required to log into your online banking account to send the funds? If you’re afraid to have someone else pay your fees, prepare a list of your creditors’ phone numbers, have your backup contact, and explain the circumstances. Often, creditors will offer you more time to make a payment in an emergency. Blanton, for example, has a $300 prepaid debit card on her desk, which a buddy may use to make bill payments in a crisis.
Think about the Laws
It would be best always to cover your legal grounds when asking someone to make financial choices for you. According to Murray, you should speak with an attorney about the arrangement since you may be required to sign legal paperwork permitting your authorized representative to act on your behalf. Finally, draft a contract describing everything this individual is responsible for and have both of you sign it.
When it comes to money management, the ideal time to make a contingency plan is before you need it, according to Blanton. “Be proactive and plan ahead of time.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud platform where their QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools are hosted in an efficient SSO environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.