by James R. Peters

5 Free Ways to Protect Your Prosperity

It’s the things we don’t see coming that can cripple our prosperity. Sometimes we get too caught up in daily mundane activities. We put things on the “backburner” and promise to do them when we have time. Unfortunately, that day never comes, and we neglect activities that can protect our families during emergencies.

I consider prosperity to be the personal state of achievement, contentment, and wellbeing. In order to lead a prosperous life, we must plan not just for today, but for all of the tomorrows. Although these tools may not be the most exciting, they will surely help protect your family’s wellbeing.


Mint is an website maintained by Intuit, the maker of the Quicken, QuickBooks, and TurboTax. Mint is a free service that aggregates your financial accounts, so they are viewable in one secure place. Mint users can also establish and track budgets and goals. Mint will analyze where your money is spent and alert you to upcoming bills.

This simple but powerful tool can really make a difference when organizing your finances. Many of us have bank accounts, loans, and credit cards with different companies; it’s easy to lose track of balances payment due dates. Mint can help you avoid late fees, and provide a detailed analysis of where you spend your money. Successful money management is key to feeling prosperous. You can either control your finances, or let your finances control you. With a Mint account, the former is much more likely.

Visit to set up your free account.


Credit Karma

Credit Karma is a free website that monitors your credit rating. With identity theft on the rise, it is extremely important to monitor your credit score. Credit Karma
not only tracks your credit score and account balances, but also alerts users to activity regarding their credit report. If there is an inquiry or a new account established, Credit Karma will alert the user of this potentially dangerous activity. In some cases, users are alerted to new accounts established by others fraudulently. Credit Karma’s quick notification technology can surely help notify users in case of erroneous or illegal activities on their accounts.

As an added bonus, CreditKarma may also offer different programs to qualified borrowers. If you have a car loan, mortgage, or credit card balance and a good credit  score, Credit Karma may have an offer for you to save money by refinancing your loan. This site does a good job of promoting good products with competitive rates and features.

Identity theft is a serious matter and now affects more people than ever. Victims of identity theft spend massive amounts of time and money restoring their good name and reputation. A little bit of prevention can go a long way to protecting you against identity thieves.

Visit to set up your free account and check your credit report today.


Update Beneficiaries

When people change jobs, open and close accounts, they often fail to update their beneficiaries. Although it can be uncomfortable to deal with our own mortality,
it is important we keep our beneficiary information as current as possible. Life insurance, retirement accounts, investment accounts, etc. should include a
current set of instructions in case something happens to you. Although you may have a will, that may not avoid court involvement. A will may still require a
probate court to oversee the process of distributing the assets of the deceased. Probate can take weeks or perhaps years, depending on the assets to be distributed. With correct beneficiaries, assets can pass outside of probate and get in the hands of your loved ones quickly and without costly court oversight.

Review your beneficiaries every year. Account and job changes, deaths, and births may impact who you choose as your beneficiaries. By reviewing and updating your beneficiaries, you can rest assured knowing that your final wishes will be carried out swiftly and as you intended.

Account Aggregation and Titling

Throughout our lives and careers, we open and close a number of different account types. The scariest thing I see is unmanaged and unwatched accounts. 401k’s from a  previous employer, or accounts titled in maiden or previous married names are the most common culprits. Combining accounts and changing account names can be  challenging, to say the least. The process is unique to each account type and financial institution. This obstacle course of paperwork and information can be so daunting that many people just choose to ignore it.

Usually there are no pressing issues that force you make these changes. However, there are situations that may require these issues being dealt with sooner rather than later. Mortgage refinances, divorces, marriages, deaths, and lawsuits can make this cornucopia of accounts unbearable.

People can sometimes save hundreds of dollars in annual fees and expenses by combining retirement and investment accounts. By combining accounts and updating the titling, you will save yourself aggravation and annoyance at the very least. During emergencies, proper titling can be the difference between easy access to property and court involvement.

Create a Family Folder

A family folder is a collection of the documents and information necessary for the successful operation of your family’s finances. In most cases, one family member is responsible for paying household bills. They know when everything is due and how each gets paid. Some bills may be paid online, while others are paid via check or cash. Due to the nature of this folder, it is important to keep it in a very secure place. Some people choose to keep their family folder in a safe or safety deposit box, while others choose to hide this information in an inconspicuous place.

By consolidating this information in one place, you will benefit from convenient access and peace of mind. Although we can never predict when emergencies will occur, we can prepare in advance. This is also a great exercise for decluttering your life.

You should consider including:

Recent account statements (bank, brokerage, retirement, education, employee owned stock, etc.)

Life insurance statements (personal, employer, etc.)

Real estate information (mortgage information, estimated values, titling, etc.)

Liabilities (credit card, auto loans, student debt, personal loans, etc.)

Pension benefits and social security (most recent statement and organization contact info)

Compensation estimates (salary, bonus, deferred compensation, stock options, restricted stock, etc.)

Estate planning documents (wills, trust, powers of attorney, beneficiary information, final wishes, etc.)

Business information (ownership history and documentation, agreements, statements, creditors, debtors)


This information doesn’t change all that often, so I recommend you update your folder contents every 3-6 months. Also, make sure a very close friend or family member knows this folder exists and where it can be found. In case of emergency, this person can assist your loved ones in their time of need.

In life, you usually get what you pay for. But with these five tools, you will benefit far more than their cost may lead you to believe. However, they do require time and effort. You will need to establish accounts online, collect documents, and get your financial “ducks in a row.” Although the process may be a little time consuming and frustrating, stick with it. Once you begin using these tools you will be glad that you did.


What are your favorite free tools? What are you using now?

About the Author

About the Author: James R. Peters is the author of The Prosperity Track: Energize, Enable, Empower and leads Integress Financial, where he oversees portfolio management, client financial advisory, and business strategy. With over ten years of experience managing investment portfolios and providing customized financial advice, he has personally assisted hundreds of people along their Prosperity Track. .


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