Safety Sam

Last week, as I was helping a friend prepare to buy a house, I was reminded of how tedious the process of closing a home loan can be these days. If you’ve taken out a new mortgage or even refinanced your existing one within the last couple of years, then you know what I mean. No matter how prepared you are or how far in advance you begin the process, there are still all sorts of account balance verifications, money transfers and last minute required documents that seem to pop up out of nowhere. In fact, I found myself scrambling for some obscure document in the 11th hour when Crystal and I refinanced our home several months ago. We ended up closing on schedule, but it felt like a small miracle at the time.

My friend’s situation was even more interesting because, up until last week, she had chosen to handle her finances off the grid. She had never logged into her brokerage or bank accounts or received an electronic statement. If she needed money or wanted to make a deposit to one of her accounts, she went to the bank. She received all her statements via the USPS and if she shredded one and needed a duplicate, she made another trip to the bank. To be clear, there is nothing necessarily wrong with her strategy, it just made the last-minute machinations of closing her home loan even more challenging. The good news is that my friend is now the proud owner of a new home. She ended up closing her loan after jumping through multiple hoops and making several trips to the bank.

Ultimately, my friend decided to establish online access to her bank and investment accounts which hopefully will make her life a bit easier in the future. Personally, I’m very comfortable navigating my family’s personal finances online but this was a big step for her. I’m thankful for the convenience of automated payments, paperless statements, and the ability to deposit checks on my iPhone while she established her online access almost out of necessity.

It’s becoming more and more challenging to manage your personal finances offline. At the same time, managing your money online does come with certain risks, which is why I believe it’s important to take any steps we can to ensure that our personal information and online accounts remain secure. Just a day or so after I helped my friend buy her house, Patty emailed this Online Security Checklist created by Charles Schwab to all of us here at Beacon. I found it to be a great reminder about things we can be doing on a daily basis to keep our personal information safe while we are online. I highly recommend reading through the checklist. In fact, I’m going to plan to reread it every year as a personal (and professional) reminder. Thankfully, if we pay attention and follow safety guidelines like the ones listed in Schwab’s checklist, we can dramatically increase our chances of having a safe and trouble free online experience.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Safety Sam is one of the nicknames Crystal and the kids have given me over the years. Personally, I think it should be something a little cooler like Prudent Paul or Reasonable Rick!

The content above is for informational and educational purposes only. The links and graphs are being provided as a convenience; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Beacon Wealthcare, nor does Beacon guarantee the accuracy of the information.


Geoff Hall, CFP®
[email protected]

My wife, Crystal, and I have been married for 11 years and have two kids, Cooper (10) and Rhodes (8.) When I’m not spending time with them you might find me downtown serving at our church, pushing my limits during a mountain bike ride or having coffee with a friend in the Five Points area. I've been a financial advisor for 29 years and I'm thankful for the privilege of shepherding my family of clients through the ups and down of the markets, and of life for that matter.