If there’s one thing we’ve collectively learned from 2020, it’s that most of us are financially unprepared for an emergency. Long-term job losses, unstable economies, global pandemics, and out-of-control wildfires have taught us that we need to be better at preparing for emergencies to strike. That’s why I invested in a family emergency binder.
Do You Really Need a Family Emergency Binder?
Here’s the short answer: if you have a family – yes, you do.
But honestly, even if you don’t have a family, it’s still a good idea.
The point of an emergency binder is really to contain all of your important information and directives all in one place.
Even if you’re single with no children, taking the time to put together an emergency binder is truly a gift to your loved ones.
If tragedy strikes and you’re hospitalized long-term, how will your bills get paid?
How will your loved ones know what your pets eat or what vet they see?
God forbid you were to pass away; your family will have to somehow navigate taking care of all of your affairs while mourning their loss at the same time.
Listen, I know this stuff is icky to think about, and not exactly a topic you’d like to bring up at the dinner table, but part of #adulting is preparing your life and your finances for all possible outcomes.
If you have a family, there is absolutely zero question that you need to have a family emergency binder – I’m actually embarrassed it took me this long to create one for my family?!
Well, actually, I created two.
One remains here in my home in a fire-proof safe, and one resides with my mother in her fire-proof safe.
This way, I have a backup, and so does a trusted family member who will have all the information needed should myself or my family experience a devastating emergency.
I don’t know about you and yours, but in my family, I keep the household running.
Yes, my husband is wonderful, and this is no slight to him, but I’m the control-freak-anxious-overplanning-micro-managing-budget-obsessed parent in our family, plus I work completely from home now, so I’m always here.
My poor husband, bless his heart, would barely know how to access our bank accounts if I weren’t here to tell him (or more likely, just do it myself because it’s easier.)
No, this is not an ideal situation, and it’s important that I make time
yesterday in the near future to review all of our bills, finances, etc., with him, but truth be told, once I found this emergency binder I decided to hold off on that chat anyway until I completed the binder – that way I had everything I could physically show him in one location.
How Do You Make an Emergency Binder?
I’m pretty frugal, and one of the ways I like to save money is by doing things myself instead of paying someone else to do them for me.
A few years back, we took Financial Peace University, and in this course, Dave Ramsey mentions creating a “legacy drawer” which is basically the same concept as an emergency binder.
At the time, I thought this was a great idea, but before I ever got around to it, a friend of mine mentioned this family emergency binder she had created and told me she purchased it online and just had to print and complete it.
I was intrigued but intended on creating my own instead of purchasing it – until she showed me hers.
This binder was overflowing with page after page of emergency printables. It was so in-depth and covered multiple topics I would have never even thought of.
Sure, I could still probably have created my own, but my time – and yours – is precious, and I am always weighing time vs. money when it comes to saving/spending.
If the amount of time it would take me to complete a task outweighs the amount of money I would pay to have it completed for me, I pay.
Simple as that. If it does not, then I do it myself.
After paging through this 90+ page binder, I knew it would take me hours upon hours to create, and even then I don’t think I could do a better job than the one I was looking at.
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter whether you make it or buy it – what matters is that you get it done, preferably sooner than later!
I decided to purchase the binder my friend used.
It was impressive, and she was really happy with the result once she had gone through the process to complete it.
If you’d like to take on the chore of creating one yourself, you’d want to begin by gathering every single piece of the important information you have about:
- each family member
- each pet
- each vehicle
- your home
- your medical history
- your medical providers
- your insurance policies (any and all types)
- your financial records
- your tax records
- your bills
- bank accounts
- investment accounts
- safe-deposit boxes
- the list just goes on and on and on…
If you’re feeling overwhelmed just from reading that last paragraph, I get it.
Honestly, that’s how I felt paging through my friend’s binder – completely overwhelmed.
But it also made me realize even more how much work it would be for someone else to find and compile all of that information on my behalf and I knew I had to do it.
If You Prefer “Digital” over “Printable”
No worries…the family emergency binder is now available in a digital flash drive instead of a printable binder.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- A complete fillable Family Emergency Binder, with options for different family structures.
- A setup walkthrough video from the creator, Chelsea Brennan
- A setup guide
- Detailed folder system by binder section to make finding paperwork quick and easy
- Family Emergency Binder keychain so your drive doesn’t get lost!
What Will I Get in the Emergency Binder?
This binder literally has every. single. thing. you could think of – just another reason why it makes sense to purchase rather than try and brainstorm this huge list of documents and information you’d need to create your own.
While the In Case of Emergency Binder is huge, it’s very well organized into 14 sections, each with sub-sections plus, when you purchase the binder, you choose which version works best for you: Minor Children, Grown Children, or No Children – this way you’re not having to deal with a bunch of extra sections/pages you don’t need.
3 Main Sections
The In Case of Emergency Binder is split into three main sections: Key Family Information, Financial Information, and Need to Know Information.
Each section is split into subsections, so it’s easy to quickly find what you’re looking for.
In addition to all the important documents, it also includes things like “letters to your children” and other emotional components you likely never would have thought to include on your own – I know I wouldn’t have, anyway!
The other nice option is you’re able to print all the pages and fill them out by hand, OR you can type directly onto your computer or tablet to complete all the documents and then print out the finished copies.
Other Benefits of an In Case of Emergency Binder
Aside from all of the reasons we discussed above, having a family emergency binder has additional benefits as well.
Get Yourself Organized
Another good reason to create a family emergency binder is just convenience!
Especially if you’re a naturally disorganized person, it’s possible your financial documents, health records, and other important information may live in multiple different areas of your home, which can make things difficult when you need to quickly locate certain items.
Compiling an ICE Binder will ensure all important info is organized and contained in one place for easy access come tax season, purchasing a home, or you need to file an insurance claim.
Info for the Sitters
The In Case of Emergency Binder also contains multiple sheets that are perfect to give to babysitters, childcare providers, and even pet sitters.
This way, anyone who is taking care of any of your kids – or furkids – has access to all the important information that may need should an injury or illness occur in your absence.
This could have life-saving impacts in the event of an emergency where every second counts.
I hope I’ve (or at least the trainwreck that is 2020 has) convinced you that creating a family emergency binder ASAP is just a good decision any way you look at it.
Whether you purchase this completely done-for-you version or you have the hours upon hours it would take to create your own version, I encourage you to move this task to the top of your to-do list…I’d hate to see you have to learn that hard way what an asset this would be to you and your family.
Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.