Monday Night Finance- Volume 52

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Do I Need a Will? Who Needs One and Why

One unique aspect of being human is that we are able to contemplate our own mortality. How one reflects upon their impending death says a lot about the individual and how they live life. One common way people deal with their mortality is to ignore it as long as possible. As a result, many people leave complicated financial legacies for their families to deal with. While you don’t need to make peace with your mortality, doing some simple estate planning can help make things easier on your loved ones after you go. Not sure where to start? Then this article, by Andy Hill of Marriage, Kids, and Money is a great tutorial on whether you need a will and how to start putting one together.

Many people say they don’t have time to make a will or think they don’t need one because they’re young. But a will is an essential part of your estate plan. It’s where you put in writing who should take care of your children, assets or pets when you pass away. It can also say what you want to happen with the things you own. Here’s when you should make a will. ~Marriage Kids and Money

The first and most obvious question is whether or not you need a will. A will is a legal document that helps people divide your assets according to your wishes after you pass away. If you don’t have a will, then the state will decide how to divide your property according to its laws through a process called “intestacy”. The intestacy process can be long and complicated. If you have either assets or family that will survive you, it would be a wise choice to have a will to make sure the assets are distributed how you would like them to be distributed. If after reading this article you decide that you need a will, the article has great suggestions on how to draft a will and where to store it. Check out the article for all of the details.

2020 Budget and Lifestyle: Living on $7,000 a Year During COVID-19

You may remember that one of our first Monday Night Finance articles chronicled Shannon and Sergio of Screw the Average. They managed to live on $3,500 per person in 2019 ($7,000 for their family of two). Incredibly, they were able to repeat those metrics again in 2020. (Despite the coronavirus pandemic). Although many people in the US live on $3,500 per month Shannon and Sergio are able to live on very little through extreme frugality and unique housing situations.

2020 is a year that will define a generation. Many prospered, many struggled, but all of our lives changed dramatically. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have made it through 2020 safe and healthy. And, as we sat down to write this article, we struggled with how to write about our pursuit of FI/RE and our budget and expenses for the year in the midst of the challenges and suffering that so many around the world have and are enduring. Ultimately, we understand that love, happiness, and life must continue. It’s how we’ll make it through and the only way we’ll keep moving forward. ~Screw The Average

Curious how they do it? Shannon and Sergio do not own or rent a home. Instead, they are professional house sitters. As you can imagine, COVID-19 changed many people’s travel plans and resulted in many potential house-sits being cancelled. Shannon and Sergio were able to maintain a full time house sitting schedule. They note that their positive reviews they have earned over 4 years of house sitting likely made them ideal candidates during this time. Beyond the absence of rent, Shannon and Sergio can place all of their possessions in a single 36 L backpack. Living simply helps them minimize their expenses on stuff. If you’re curious about their full budget, you can see all of their yearly spending in 2020. They also compare their expenses to the “normal” year of 2019. While they spent about $7,000 each year, the spending within the categories were slightly different.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Have you ever been in a car accident? The insurance industry estimates that 77% of drivers have been in an accident and that the average driver gets into an accident every 18 years. So the chances are high that if you haven’t been in an accident yet, you will be in one eventually. That being said, no one plans on getting in a car accident when they leave the house. Do you know what to do if you are in an accident? If not, it is a good idea to review what to do so that you will hopefully make prudent decisions after the accident.

Speaking from personal experience, countless thoughts suddenly rush through your head when you feel the collision. First, make sure everyone is all right and call 911. Then record the details of the accident and call your insurance company when things are more settled. To avoid panic and making mistakes, here’s a handy guide of what to do after a car accident to stay calm, cool, and collected. ~WalletHacks

The first thing to do in case of a car accident is to asses whether everyone is okay. You will also want to call 911 to report the accident and summon first responders if anyone is injured. After assessing the situation, you will want to gather as much information as possible. You will need to exchange information with the other driver and record their license plate, driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle identification (VIN) number. It is important not to admit guilt during this time, regardless of whether or not you feel you are at fault as this could complicate the investigation into the accident and/or affect your legal responsibility. You may also want to take pictures of the accident scene. With the ubiquity of cameras in cellular telephones, it is likely that you have a camera with you at all times. This documentation may be useful later on. If you are found to be at-fault for the accident, you can expect your auto-insurance rates to increase. The article has lots of tips about how to find low cost auto insurance if you have been in an accident. Check out the article for a full list of post-accident advice.