Jim Rossman: Now is a good time to summarize your important online informationApril 1, 2020 9:46am

March 26-- Last week I wrote about a few things you could do with some extended time at home, and I included getting your passwords in order.

That prompted my wife to ask me about all the things in our lives that we do online, like banking, retirement planning, paying bills, watching movies and more.

It is probably not a surprise to my readers that I am the techie in our household. My wife is a great consumer of technology and she does enjoy learning about and using new things I bring into the house (mostly), but she lets me take care of most of the online stuff.

She reminded me that it had been more than a few years since I'd given her a summary of all our online accounts.

If something were to happen to me, would she know where the bills get paid and how to access my 401k?

I took a few hours and started listing all the things I do online, including all the bank accounts, insurance, retirement accounts, utility accounts, car payments, as well as some things like our Amazon and Netflix login information.

Saved passwords in web browsers and password managers make it too easy to click through and make a purchase or log into Netflix. If your computer crashed hard and you had to replace it, what percentage of your passwords would you remember?

It was a good exercise for both of us to compile a new summary of our online situation.

We used a simple Microsoft Word document, although an Excel Spreadsheet would work just as well.

It lists the account name, the URL for the login page, the username, password and any other information, such as "autopay set up from checking account."

Microsoft Office allows users to password protect Word and Excel documents, so I've protected it and I plan to keep it updated more often than I have in the past.

My parents don't do a lot of business online, but my mom keeps up with that information and has put it on paper in a safe place.

The bottom line: Do your family a favor and make a list all of your critical information, then let someone know how to find it when it's needed.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.

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