Life doesn’t always go as planned, and it’s essential to prepare for life’s unexpected challenges. Join the Peace of Mind Challenge–a step-by-step guide to get young families on the road to emergency and financial preparedness…just in case.Happy 2018, everyone! I’m a week behind the crowd of “Happy New Years,” but I enjoyed a much-needed break to focus on my family. That, and my computer crashed and had to be completely reset…so it’s taken me awhile to get back up and running. Now I’m back, and I’m ready to ring in the new year with gusto.
Did you make any resolutions this year? Each year I change my strategy. Some years I’ve made really specific lists. Other years, I’ve chosen a simple one-word mantra to focus on for the year. Last year, I shared with you my Goal Planning Workbook for accomplishing meaningful goals without getting overwhelmed. While I didn’t do everything I set out to do, I made some good progress.
- I learned how to use my Instant Pot
- I grew my blog and actually made a small profit from it
- I made some awesome memories with my kids (like our trips here and here)
- I had a baby! (which I didn’t know about when I made all my goals, and it kind of derailed some of my efforts the second half of the year…but for good reason. Sometimes priorities have to change.)
I have big plans for this year, too, and one of my big goals will hopefully include YOU!
My 2018 Goal:
I’ve become all too aware recently of how life often doesn’t go as planned. In the past year, I’ve seen the harsh reality of this play out in the lives of wonderful people around me. Not just on the news, but real people. Neighbors, friends, family members. I’ve been reminded how the unthinkable sometimes does happen, and we need to be prepared.
Consider the following:
- If you died tomorrow, who would take care of your kids? Do you have a will? Would there be finances to pay for their care?
- If your home caught fire, would your kids know how to escape safely? Do they know where to meet you once they are outside?
- If you lost your child in a public place, would they know how to find a trustworthy adult and provide the information needed to contact you?
- If there was a natural disaster, do you have emergency supplies to get your family through the first rough days before help arrives?
These aren’t fun conversations, but they are essential. I know I’ve been putting them off for far too long, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
After all, life as a parent is always busy. I get that. I barely have time to shower these days, let alone research life insurance policies. There’s a never-ending list of things to clean, people to help, and errands to run, all while trying to be a loving mom who makes her kids a priority.
Back when I was single and had no assets to speak of, this “just in case” stuff wasn’t quite as important. It got pushed to the bottom of the to do list–into the “someday” column, and there it has stayed because something else always demands more immediate attention. But seven years into marriage and three kids later, “someday” has come, and it’s time to get my ducks in a row.
This is the year I’m going to make a plan to protect my family and prepare for the future. I hope you’ll join me for the…
What is the goal?
This challenge is not about adding one more thing to your to do list. If you’re like me, this has already been on your list for a long time. This challenge is about breaking down some heavy, overwhelming, and essential tasks into small, actionable steps so you can get them off your “to do” list.
This challenge is a little scary for me, to tell you the truth. These are things I have been putting off for years, so committing to finally DO them makes me a little nervous. But, I’ve decided that this accountability to you, my friends, is a good thing. Because I really do believe that preparing for the possible challenges of life is critical.
So, I’m committing to tackling ONE preparedness task per month for the next year. By the end of the challenge, my family will be more prepared for many of the difficult situations life may throw at us in the coming years. I hope none of these tragedies ever happen, but it will give me peace of mind to know we are ready.
What tasks/topics will we cover?
I’m planning to tackle the following topics over the next 12 months:
- death – writing a will, living will, life insurance, power of attorney
- fire – family escape/emergency plan, protecting important files/photos
- disaster – Emergency (grab-n-go) kits, evacuation plan
- college – setting up an Educational Savings Account or 529 plan
- child safety – stranger danger, body safety, 9-1-1
Some topics will be split up into more than one month because I don’t want any ONE month to be too overwhelming.
What will each month’s challenge involve?
Each month, I’ll choose a topic, research it thoroughly, and complete the tasks necessary to prepare my family for that situation. At the beginning of the following month, I’ll teach you the best of everything I learned during the month, and I’ll provide a free printable workbook to walk you through completing the process for your own family.
Together, I’m confident that we will all be more prepared and have more peace of mind by the end of the year.
Are you with me?
Let’s Get Started!
Before we can move forward with preparedness, we need to know where we are starting from, and we need to get organized. Consequently, the first month of this challenge is going to focus on gathering what we already have, and setting ourselves up for success the rest of the year.
Month One Peace of Mind Goals
1. Decide where to store important documents.
Truth be told, my mom was a bit aghast when I told her a couple of months ago that I don’t have any kind of “safe” storage for my family (or a will). Oops.
When I decided to launch this challenge, I started researching my options–and found that most people use either a safe deposit box at a local bank or a fire-resistant home safe.
So which to choose? It’s easy to fall down the Internet rabbit hole researching these types of things (I did that). At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to both. The “best” option depends on what is most important to you. This article can help you decide.
When you’re considering which to buy for yourself, pay attention to the interior dimensions of the box. Some of them are only big enough for passports and digital drives, but not for paper files. Also, note whether the safe is fire resistant (and to what temperature and for how long), water-resistant, or both.
We opted to get this simple, fire-resistant home safe for now. We may upgrade it in the future, but this year is all about getting us on the right track without a ton of extra expense, so we went with a basic option.
Here are some other well-reviewed options on Amazon:
If you choose a home safe, discuss with your spouse where you will keep the safe. If you just thought, “In my master bedroom closet,” realize that this is just about everyone’s first thought, making it the first place thieves are likely to look. Think of a different hiding spot that is easy to access, out of the way, and not likely to be targeted by thieves.
You’ll also need to find a safe place to keep the key to your safe.
2. Gather what you have.
What important documents do you already have? See the list below to get you started. Gather these documents and place them in your “safe” place. Here are items you may want to consider:
- birth Certificates
- marriage certificates
- social security cards
- insurance policies
- car title
- house deed
- wills, trusts, living wills
- tax records
- other legal documents
- some cash for emergencies
Also, consider scanning important documents, then copy the digital files onto a CD or USB drive to place in your fire-proof box or safe deposit box. This provides you with a back-up in case any documents are lost or damaged.
3. Get on the same page as your spouse.
Are you the financial guru in your relationship, or does your spouse handle most of the bills, taxes, and investments? Do you know the logins and passwords for all of your online accounts?
I am married to an accountant, so you can guess which of us is more financially savvy. He does our taxes, manages our investments, and I mostly nod and smile when he gives me updates–trusting him to take care of it. I pay the city utilities, and that’s about it. I know most of the information for our accounts, but to be honest, I don’t actually know how to look up all of our investments.
But by the end of the month, I WILL!
Even if you never look at the accounts (although you should…but that’s a discussion for another day), it’s SO important for both spouses to have access to all critical information, especially financial accounts. If something ever happened to your spouse, you need to be able to access and learn to manage all financial decisions.
Share logins and passwords to all accounts. Make sure you both know the following:
- locations of important documents
- emergency contact info for family members, doctors, insurance agents, lawyers, etc.
- logins and passwords for online accounts (bank, utilities, phone, investments, etc.)
You might want to create master list so that in case of an emergency all the information is easily found in one place. Make sure to keep this sensitive information secure! Here are two possibilities:
- Pen & paper list: The free printable workbook at the end of this article has a form you can use to record all critical information. Keep it hidden in your home safe. Obviously, you don’t want to just leave a list like that lying around.
- Password protected electronic document: if you would prefer to make your master list digitally, this site offers a comprehensive (if a little bit overkill) spreadsheet you can download. Just be sure to password protect any document you create digitally that includes sensitive information. Choose a password that will be easy for you and your spouse to remember, but that is different from your passwords that are in the document.
That’s it! Just three things that you can probably do in an hour or two. Trade watching ONE Netflix show sometime this month for doing this challenge. It’s a little effort for a LOT more peace of mind.
See, I told you this would be doable.
Are there any specific preparedness topics you would like to learn about this year? Share in the comments, and I’ll try to add your request into my schedule for the year!