The Gifts-That-Matter Guide

6 Gifts That Matter & Help You Get Your Shit Together

Whether you love every second or will be white-knuckling it through the rest of the month, here is the first ever Get Your Shit Together Gifts-That-Matter Guide. Consider giving something (if you do that) that can make a big difference for you and those you love: Time, Clarity, Answers, Security, Sanity, and Gratitude.

1) The Gift of Time

  • Digital Accounts & Passwords
  • Do Your Wills! OMG!

Wrangle Digital Accounts and Passwords: Don’t lose important things and save yourself (and eventually others) dozens of hours trying to get online access.

I’ve used LastPass (the free version) for years to manage digital accounts, a few tech-geek friends prefer Dashlane. Either one (or others) allow you to save, store, and share your details.

Also, get a Digital Power of Attorney document to give others permission to access accounts if you can’t. Legal Zoom and RocketLawyer are two of the biggest online legal-docs companies and offer forms or packages like:

Do Your Wills: Seriously, wrap up your finally completed (or updated) will and power of attorney document. Then put a bow on it and it will be the Best. Present. Ever!

For the Do-It-Yourself crowd: You’ve got options. Nolo has been around for a long time in this space and so has their main product, Nolo Quicken WillMaker Plus which offers all the ‘basic’ documents, and also an Estate Planning Bundle with e-books to help you understand the process. Also, Nolo Online Living Trust is available if you want/need to set up a Trust.

MamaBear Legal has online forms focusing on parents of kids and young adults (get a POA and medical release when they move away, important!).

Need a Lawyer? Ask friends or co-workers for a referral, or websites like LegalShield or Avvo offer referrals if you’re stuck.

Live in Washington State? Email me for some referrals.

2) The Gift of Clarity

  • End-of-Life Plans
  • Have the Conversation

Have the Conversation: Knowing what someone wants, or sharing what ‘quality of life means’ to you is priceless and have been some of the most meaningful conversations of my life.

Cake is a free end-of-life resource (you may remember that Cake acquired and offers state-specific health and legal forms online. Many folks also like Five Wishes and the detailed form is only $5.

Talk About (talking about) It: Death Over Dinner offers a free guide and invitation advice. The Conversation Project has tons of free resources. The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler helps us learn and prepare.

3) The Gift of Answers

  • Have a ‘What-if’ Plan

What happens is something happens? Having a few answers ahead of time makes hard times a little softer. Get a ‘What-if’ plan. Tons of good checklists and advice in my book or read this article with a book excerpt.

4) The Gift of Security

  • Money & Savings
  • Do Need Insurance?

Money can buy you time = feeling of security: This year perhaps you should put some of that stocking stuffer money into a savings account for a rainy day or special trip? (photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

An Emergency Fund helps you feel more secure in a daily-way if something happens. I use (free) to help me track my spending and budget. Other people love You Need a Budget (not free), you can get apps like Acorns (I’ve used), or, for for budgeting, these books helped me:

Bad With Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together by Gaby Dunn.

Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated. by Helaine Olen and Harrold Pollack.

Cover Your Butt with some Insurance: Yes, I know Insurance is maybe not the most ‘traditional’ gift and is one you hope you won’t need. However, it is super helpful for many people, and if you every do need it, you’re really going to appreciate having it.

If you can’t get life (or disability) insurance through your work (ask if you can ‘take it wth you’ if you do) you can shop and buy online.

Bestow offers term life insurance online, doesn’t require a medical exam, and the application process is easy (I just bought a second policy from them a few weeks ago and it only took about 5 minutes). You can also compare prices on sites like Policy Genius (life, disability and other types of policies).

FREE: Update your beneficiaries! You can do it online (your bank, 401k, etc.) in just about 5 minutes. You have no idea the horror stories I’ve heard.

5) The Gift of Sanity

  • Get (more) Organized
  • Grief & Loss Support

Get Organized: First, I won’t pretend that having a checklist or a productivity app is going to make it hurt any less or make your pile of to-dos any smaller. However, getting a little more organized before the shit hits the fan is amazing, but keeping it together after life goes sideways, just even being able to find things you need, can be critical.

I have a daily planner like this popular daily Planner or more heavy-duty ‘Pro’ Planner by Panda. I’ve gone through a dozen of these journals for note-taking. These books have helped me Get Things Done and write my first checklist. Many people LOVE using productivity apps and Evernote is often at the top of the list, I also like Wunderlist.

While the phrase ‘peace of mind’ is far from my favorite, after a particularly devastating moment when I dropped my laptop (on the way to the airport) and nearly everything was corrupted – I back up my files religiously with this external hard drive, but any kind is better than not at all. Hoping to have learned that lesson only once, I also keep my final documents and important files in a pocket folder and (finally got, no kidding) a fire-proof safe.

Grief and Loss Support: People may not understand what you’re going through and say dumb, insensitive stuff. You may not feel ‘better’ for a while. Nothing will change what happened or bring your person back, but I found some things help a little, sometimes they even help a lot.

Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner.

It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine.

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.

Death and Dying: Reading these books honestly made me feel better: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.

Feel overwhelmed? Try The Age of Overwhelm by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky or The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

Ask for Help and offer to Help: Reach out to a friend, even if you don’t say the perfect thing (which there isn’t, so you can relax), trying your best helps.

6) The Gift of Gratitude (free)

Write a letter, make a phone call, say hello, say you’re sorry, go outside, meditate, volunteer, ask, help, say yes, say no, nap, exercise, or hug someone.

Cover image for What Matters Most by Chanel Reynolds
And finally, my book: What Matters Most. The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's 'What-ifs'. I packed many, very personal stories and plenty of new and expanded checklists into the book.

**This Gift Guide includes things I personally use, love, have purchased, or come highly recommended. A few links offer a small commission if you buy something, this helps cover the website and newsletter costs. As always, you should research, make good choices, and don’t buy stuff you don’t need.**

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