How to Set Your Finances in Order
- Monday, July 14, 2014
"In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, 'This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover'" (Isaiah 38:1).
Imagine you've been making all the right financial moves for a long time. You estimated your future needs, diligently set aside a portion of every paycheck, invested the money according to a trustworthy strategy, bought proper insurance for your family, stocked an emergency fund, made sure your paperwork is in order (wills, trusts, living wills, power-of-attorney documents), and everything else. If you've done all that, congratulations—you're in far better shape than most people!
Now imagine today is your last day alive. You never saw it coming, didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to those you love. Sure, you're in a better place. Your spouse, while grieving, has confidence about that as well. But would your spouse know how to carry on in managing the household's finances? Would he or she know how you've been investing, how much insurance you have and what to do with the proceeds, or who to call?
Chances are, a prophet will not appear to let us know when our time is up. But unless the Lord returns first, the odds are approximately 100% that we will all die. So, it would be wise to follow Isaiah's guidance and put our house in order. The sooner the better.
How Well Prepared Are You?
A recent survey of Sound Mind Investing members really brought home the importance of this. We asked, "If your household's primary investment decision-maker died today, how well equipped would the survivor be to make such decisions? Just 7% said, "Very well-equipped." Another 29% said, "Somewhat well-equipped. But the majority said, "Not very well-equipped" or "Not at all well-equipped."
A Very Helpful Resource
The ministry of Compass—Finances God's Way has a great resource that'll help make sure your spouse is well prepared to handle all of your family's finances, not just your investments.
"Set Your House In Order" is a five-week course from ministry Founder Howard Dayton that's one part Bible study and one part highly practical organize-your-finances activities. The Bible study, including weekly scripture memory, reminds us of God's ownership over everything, our roles as stewards of his resources, the importance of wise counselors, and more.
The practical activities include putting together a financial statement, taking an asset inventory, developing cash flow plans for now and after the main breadwinner's death, creating a family history to pass down to future generations, inheritance and other estate planning decisions, stating your funeral and burial wishes, gathering details for your obituary, and more.
One of the most valuable activities is gathering all of your important financial documents in one place (or two, since originals of some of them should be kept in a safe deposit box). This includes information about investments, insurance, bank accounts, wills or trusts, living wills, power-of-attorney documents, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, and more. That will go a long way toward helping your spouse manage his or her finances after you're gone.
The study prompts you to tackle an exhausting list of tasks, but since it's grounded in scripture, bathed in prayer, and focused on the benefits for your loved ones, it quickly becomes clear that the tasks are actually acts of good stewardship and love. That provides all the needed motivation.
While it could be completed on your own, "Set Your House In Order" is designed for a small group setting, which provides helpful accountability. The participants do not need to live in the same city. They can connect via free video conferencing tools such as Skype, which is what I did in taking the study with a friend in Dallas.
Recently on Planning
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content