In the January, 2012 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, there was a list of “money” apps that you might find interesting. Mint was one of the first web sites to track your account balances and expenditures automatically. With information downloaded from bank, credit card, loan and investment accounts, a personal financial dashboard is created. With this tool, you can analyze your spending, track spending and develop a budget. It is a free app. MasterCard ATM Hunter helps you find the nearest ATM when you are in unfamiliar territory. Visa offers a similar app. If you have to file expense reports, consider adding Expensify to your inventory of apps. You can import data/transactions from accounts at major banks and/or credit card companies and add the info to an expense report. You can snap a picture of a receipt and the app will automatically create an electronic record accessible online. If you need help tracking nonfinancial accounts that are important to your bottom line, such as frequent flier miles and reward card programs, explore Pageonce Money and Bills.
Since we are on a tech roll, let me suggest to you that there is a new and critical area of estate planning that needs your attention: your digital legacy. In the December 27, 2011 online edition of Financial Planning, if people die without leaving power of attorney to an executor or trustee with the names of and passwords for online accounts—financial, professional and personal—these accounts may become inaccessible. The heirs may not know of the existence of each and every online bank and investment account. Also, repositories of photos, music, movies, etc. may end up being accidentally deleted. According to this article, there is now a power of attorney “for asset management” that should address these issues. If the person appointed as executor of your will is not digitally savvy, it is possible to appoint a special “digital executor” that will act on your behalf after your death to distribute or delete your digital assets according to your wishes. Another suggestion is to consider use of an online service that allows users to securely input user names, passwords and wishes for each of their digital assets. These services include LegacyLocker.com, Entrustet.com or Securesafe.com. I personally cannot vouch for any of these websites, so have them checked out by someone knowledgeable in these areas.
From the Forward Day by Day for January 13th, “Often in my life and faith journey, I have found myself at a fork in the road with no clear direction of which way to go. I’ve asked God to show me the way, yet no definite answer has come. It is consoling to me to know that Thomas Merton, a spiritual giant, didn’t always know where he was going. His famous prayer from Thoughts in Solitude begins with the words, ‘My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.’ At times of uncertainty, I begin by taking a step, trusting that God is with me on the road that I choose. Often, it becomes clear before long whether I have chosen the path of life. At other times, I come to realize that there really wasn’t one right way to go. Most importantly, I know that God is with me no matter which way I go. And, where God is, there is life. From Psalm 16: In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
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