Category Archives: finance tips

Missing Rings = Insurance Claim

Pumpkin carving 2010, rare photo showing both rings…

Close friends of mine know that earlier this spring, my wedding rings disappeared after an emergency surgery. My platinum wedding ring and 20’s era heirloom diamond engagement ring, and another heirloom ring that was made from a spoon by a Great Aunt during the depression were inexplicably lost at the surgery center.


After I got over the grief of loosing these irreplaceable items (which took a good month), I finally took everyone’s advice and went through the steps of reporting them as stolen and filing an insurance claim. In the process, Traveler’s naturally wanted proof that these jewels existed…this was surprisingly difficult.


At one point many years ago I took up-close photos of my rings for insurance purposes, but somehow after switching laptops several times and loosing some photos in a melted motherboard, I wasn’t able to locate any close-up photos. The best photos I had were distant shots of me signing our wedding certificate and another of me in a family photo in Denmark. Note to readers: take a photo of your valuables today!


I also needed to find a receipt, and deep in our old filing cabinet, I discovered that we do in fact still have copies of checks and financial records from 10 years ago! I need to write another post on this, because it was fascinating to see what our financial life was like just ten years ago. I had almost completely forgotten that for two years of working temporary/part-time/hostessing I barely brought in enough to pay my minimal bills…


Back to the rings, I told myself ages ago that I would get an appraisal for the heirloom jewelry, but I never did. I know they were more valuable the covered by our basic insurance. While I’m somewhat satisfied to have gotten our maximum of $1500, the truth is that I still bring myself to purchase any “replacement” rings. Our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up in August, so I’m hoping to feel inspired to get a new ring. Until then, my hands will feel naked and I’ll always wonder what really happened to my rings…


Have you ever had stolen/missing jewelry?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Account Info List

After a bit of a hiatus, I feel like I’m getting back to finance basics. I hadn’t checked any accounts or paid any bills in nearly three weeks. Thankfully, since we’ve worked to streamline our finances and set up as much as possible on autopay, I wasn’t actually delinquent on anything. It’s kind of a relief to have been MIA and not feel any dread now that I’m ready to refocus on our finances.


It’s also a reminder of how essential my Google Docs folder with all our account info has become for managing finances with simplicity. I have no doubt that without this handy crutch I would have been needing new passwords left and right to log in…passwords are the first thing to vanish from my brain! I’ll give a gentle nudge to say that when you set up your estate documents, it’s important to share this info (or at least have it all compiled) for your executor. Most of us get multiple bills via email, and how else can anyone deal with them without a clear account info list? 


It also makes me realize that we have several gaps in our record keeping, and I would hate to send anyone through our files to find the wheat from the chaff. In fact, based on my response to a questionnaire we filled out when we got our personal finance planning report from Jonathan Pond, he advised that updating our will and doing a better job filing be some of our top priorities…the filing still needs to be sorted/simplified.


I found a detailed list of info you should have handy for your executor. While some items (like appliance guarantees) seem a bit overkill, I certainly agree that we should have all the essential documents in order. I also found a simple template from O magazine. Now that the gardening weather is so nice I don’t expect to tackle this soon, but it does give a good project for next autumn.


Do you have a master account list?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Zipcar Goes Public

I happened to peek at the Wall Street Journal business section in the lunch room, and found an article about Zipcar going public on the stock market this week. 


I know this is a family finance blog, but I’m really an investment virgin. We have no stocks to our name, and I have no clue where to begin (beyond adding more money to my retirement fund). My Twin Sis is the investment chic in our family, and she once made over $50k by investing in Hansen’s soda as they came out with a new energy drink.


But the prospect of investing in Zipcar has me excited. The price will determine what we can afford to invest, but I finally feel like we have the stability to begin investing and Zipcar is a company I trust and enjoy myself. A third party study estimated that “From a $350 million industry, the study says, it will grow to become a $3 billion industry by 2016.” Plus, here’s 3 reasons to buy ZIP.


Just last week the Christian Science Monitor hyped all the benefits of Zipcar, and other car sharing options (notably they didn’t mention Portland’s Get Around).  


Speaking of car sharing, we are still in debate about going carless. It’s a big jump, we just can’t seem to take the leap just yet…plus it’s still not truly biking weather in Portland yet!


Would you invest in Zipcar? 


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Tax Return!

I know April 15th still seems a ways out, but we always do our taxes early since we typically get a refund. Last year I wrote about how we prefer to get a bonus tax return, rather than getting too little taken out and having to pay extra in a lump sum. Hubby was again on top of things, and TurboTax made the process easy. 


This year our return is $3545, and we’re stoked to replenish our savings after dipping into it for our home refinance. Apparently the average refund is now $3,036, so we’re pretty much average. Perhaps it’s our child care or student loans that push us up a little.


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m ready for some green tax reform. Read more about “Pay as you burn, not as you earn” in The Ecologist.


Have you done your taxes yet?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Go Paperless

Lately I’ve been taking a moment here and there to save some trees and reduce my finance clutter. I’ve wanted to “go paperless” for years, and until recently it felt like wishful thinking. But suddenly everyone seems to be pitching paperlessCostco AmericanExpress, One PacificCoast Bank, Regence BlueCross, our family doctor and my City of Portland water/sewer bill.


The New Ecologist shares more about how the new economy has given companies the extra push to go paperless. Companies like PayItGreen are leading the way to a paperless future, and in my mind none too soon.


Paperless billing and workflow all hit a top ten technology trend list for 2010Here are some great tips for making sure that paperless billing goes smoothly: like keeping all your passwords!  Good thing I try to stay organized with GoogleDocs 😉


How many paperless bills do you have?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.