Passwords Here, There and Everywhere!
How many passwords do you have to keep track of? Have you ever counted them? I stopped counting after I hit 200 (but I have two businesses so hopefully it’s not that many for everyone). I know it’s all for our own safety and security of our personal information, but I find myself thinking, “can we just scan my eyeballs and get it over with already!?!” It feels ridiculous the volume of passwords we have to use in our lives these days.
Your Magic Words
Remember as a kid being asked “What are the Magic Words?” You were probably being reminded by adults who cared about you like a parent, teacher, or grandparent to remember your manners and say “please” or “thank you” right? The Magic Words I encourage you to think about this month are our passwords because they actually have to do with people you care about but in a different way.
Help in the Kitchen
Take the kitchen for example. It’s the location of one of our favorite ways we show love…sharing meals with family and friends. We often work together in the kitchen to create favorite foods with tools and kitchen gadgets that we know right where to find in various spots in the kitchen.
But what if you didn’t know where the tools in the kitchen were? We have all been to someone else’s home, for example, and found ourselves helping with dishes or putting away items after a meal with no idea where anything belongs. The same thing can happen with our passwords. Unless someone tells us, we can’t help even if we want to.
Help with Your Finances
How do you help loved ones find things financially when unexpected events strike? I had a family member who lived on the East coast of the United States and his aunt lived on the West coast. After she passed away, as her successor trustee, he made more than one airplane trip just to finish finding all of her financial information. Our passwords are especially tricky since we do such a good job of keeping them confidential and not easily found. Today we are acquiring SO many passwords as we log in for work related software, retail sites, music/entertainment choices, health and prescription services, bank/investment/retirement accounts, the list goes on.
It’s About the Access
I am not an expert in the area of identifying or storing passwords, so my point is not to give you tips on how to create the best and safest passwords. Instead, I have seen from experience helping families with their finances throughout their lives and all the way to the end of their lives that it’s crucial to realize how important passwords are. You not only must keep track of them securely, but you also must remember to set up a contingency plan for when someone else will need to access them on your behalf.
Notice I didn’t say IF someone needs to access them on your behalf? You have these tools in your financial toolbox but if no one can access them, they don’t do you any good. If you end up in the hospital unconscious, for example, does your significant other or friend/relative who may need to help temporarily, know where to find the passwords if needed? Or same question if you pass away unexpectedly with no hospital stay first. Either way, someone will need your passwords before or after you are gone.
You may be nodding your head as you are reading this. Yes, it is important that someone knows how to access your passwords when needed. You agree. But it may be like many good financial practices…we learn, we are aware, we agree they are important, yet did we take action on those guidelines?
Here is one option. Maybe you leave instructions in a sealed envelope in your home/file and tell the pertinent person now where that envelope is so he/she knows where to look when the time comes. Or maybe those Magic (pass)Words are on your phone, on a hard drive, in a secure folder on your computer, in a booklet in your safe, etc. Plus, you need to think through who and how someone should access that information WHEN needed. You get to decide, but you also need to take action now on that decision.
In times of unexpected events, it’s not about you knowing your passwords, it’s about you having told someone how to access them before it’s ever needed!
What have you decided is your contingency plan for accessing your password? Have you had an experience trying to help someone when the passwords were unknown? Let’s have a discussion.
This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.