Did you feel the need to get your accounts in order before you gave birth? For example, if you’re the primary money manager in your relationship, did you do anything special before labor to prepare your partner should he or she need to take over the money management? (Sorry for your dark thought for the day! Of course death or incapacitation related to pregnancy is still really rare, but pregnancy is certainly a big deal, healthwise. Although Scientific American did just look into why U.S. maternal mortality rates have doubled, and quoted a CDC official who classified it as “almost certainly not a real increase,” just a result of better data.) I pondered this a lot while I was pregnant, and didn’t see too much else on this topic, so I thought it might be interesting to discuss.
Psst: We always used to call money discussions “Tales from the Wallet” at Corporette — so we’re continuing the tradition here! Pictured – love this wallet from Brahmin!
In both of my pregnancies I emailed a long list of instructions to my husband; we pow-wowed about the details for hours. So in case it’s helpful to anyone else, I thought I’d share what I included — it also had a lot of blank spaces for passwords that later we filled out (or I had him fill out in his handwriting) on a hard copy of the email:
- Due dates for major bills — particularly those paid from checking accounts automatically, like our mortgage. I actually already keep an Excel chart of “what’s due on the first of the month,” so I was able to show him those figures and calculations.
- Important passwords (and where the minor passwords are) — for banks, financial accounts, Facebook, my main email addresses, and more.
- How to move money from my business accounts into our accounts. In our situation, I end up moving a lot of money around every month from my business accounts to my personal accounts, and some from there to high interest savings accounts for taxes and my SEP-IRA. It’s all on my first-of-the-month spreadsheet, but it’s far from intuitive. (And I’m sure he LOVED having an instructional email and tutorial that included things like “Take the resulting number from cell F6 and insert it into A4…”)
- Who gets paid, how much, when, and from which account. The system is different for my virtual assistant than it is for my editor than it is for our babysitter or our cleaning professional.
- Suggestions for where to get more money, if needed, and how long the transfer might take. Again, this might be because I’m self-employed and my income fluctuates from month to month (and sometimes people need to be chased on payment). It might also be unique to us because I have a million different accounts in Ally for various big expenses (like term insurance payments, classes for my older son, dental fun, and more).
- Major upcoming deadlines. For example, on June 15 our estimated tax payments were due; if we had major deadlines for school tuition or things like that I’d also have listed them.
Finally, it wasn’t financial, but I also gave him my son’s schedule, contact info for major people in our life (accountant, lawyer, insurance contact, etc.), and a few ideas with what to do about Corporette in the event that things went poorly for me during labor.
Readers, did you do anything special to manage your money as you got closer to your due date? What about general household management — did you do anything special to change things up? (Or: am I totally the only one who worried about this kind of stuff?)
Ha! I totally did this while I was IN labor but did not know it. Suddenly felt an urgent need to make sure all possible loose ends were tied up! I wasn’t so worried about what could happen as much as I wanted to get everything on autopilot before the baby came so that I wouldn’t forget to pay bills during the newborn phase. I made sure to go over spreadsheets with my husband about which accounts cover what bills and how to access everything. I also adjusted savings and transfers so that everything would be set during my maternity leave. It was a huge relief later that night when I realized it was time to go to the hospital!
I didn’t but I should have. We missed paying a $5 charge on a rarely used credit card right after my older daughter was born, and it haunted my husband’s credit report for years.
Didn’t for the first time around, but if there’s a second time, it won’t be with out all of this info somewhere DH can access it. I’m also working on how to pass this sort of info on, with other important documents, so it can be stored with our wills.
Experiencing scary post-delivery complications is enough to completely change what I think is important to prepare for. Someone else can wash baby clothes or build a crib, having legal and financial affairs in order is something I have to deal with.
Meg Murry says
I handle 95% of the online banking stuff, so I keep all my usernames and passwords in LastPass, and I keep the master password in a certain folder in a fireproof file safe in my husband’s home office. It’s just on a post-it note in an otherwise empty folder, so about every 6 months or so I say to my husband “you know what this post it note is, right?”
My concern if something happened to me is that so many of our bills are electronic that I’m pretty sure my husband might not even realize I have a Target credit card, etc, let alone to make sure there is money in the account for when it auto debits, or to watch it to make sure it isn’t stolen and mis-used or for him to close it.
After kid #1 was born, our finances were in shambles because we had so many random medical bills coming in separately, and I couldn’t keep track of which ones had and hadn’t been sent through the insurance company (a lot of them hadn’t and I had to submit them myself or just suck it up and pay the random $50 here, $100 there when I just couldn’t deal). Not going to lie, after a while I just put them all on a credit card and then dealt with it a few months later when I could breathe. Not really the best financial strategy, but my son had some ongoing issues that had us going back to the hospital at least every other day if not every day for his first 3 weeks of life, so paying bills was at the bottom of my list.
If you have an emergency fund, I highly recommend transferring some money to your checking account and then putting everything on auto-debit with a list of what gets autodebited when and just leave it.
As far as a list of accounts goes, we have to do a financial disclosure report every year as to who we own money to [long story, it sucks, but it does help capture all our debt-related bills], and we’ve found pulling our free credit reports does a good job of capturing all the accounts. You might not get the account number, but it at least allows us to say “ok, Meg has 3 student loan accounts, and a Chase, Capital One and Target Credit card and Husband has XXX, YYY, ZZZ, plus we have mortgages at banks A and B” – most everything shows up there as long as you’ve used it at least once.
Meg Murry says
Oh, and I’m also working on getting all our billing stuff switched over to a separate Meg+Husband gmail address, so that if H does ever have to look for things it will all be going to that gmail address, as opposed to him having to deal with wading through my 37 emails from Lands End and Target a day to find the credit card bill info.
We did the DH+Me email address for all the bills, and it’s great. We have it set to forward to DH’s email, so he sees as things come in, so he at least has a clue about what to look for.
This would have been really helpful – I didn’t expect the hormone and nursing fog to be so bad that first month postpartum, and ended up basically dropping all responsibilities that didn’t involve a screaming infant. My husband picked up some of it, but not all of it and I’m still having to work through some ongoing credit issues almost 18 months postpartum.
I think more important than putting accounts in order is making sure your partner is ready to take over for a while; talk to them, make sure they have account access and checkbooks and know how to get the mail and what envelopes are NOT junk mail. And make sure both of you know how to submit claims for insurance reimbursement. I was shocked at how many providers sent bills directly to us.