Having an In Case of Emergency Binder filled out and ready to go is one of the best ways to prepare for any type of what-if scenario. No one needs to scramble to find passwords, bank account info, legal documents, etc. – it’s all in one place.
I get really nervous about this stuff every time my wife and I go out of my own. I think about things like who’s going to take care of our dog Strider? And what about our complicated business finances?
I know why this stuff is so important to organize now because of how difficult it was to deal with everything when Coral’s dad passed away a couple of years ago. We all knew it was coming, but we spent a lot of time organizing these documents and wishes, whereas it could have been done years earlier.
Fortunately, the ladies at Smart Money Mamas have spent a lot of time thinking about this. So much time that they created the In Case of Emergency Binder. It’s the easiest way to organize and store all of the important aspects of your life.
The thing is, putting together an emergency binder is hard. It’s the realization that something awful might happen one day. This doesn’t always mean a death in the family either.
Someone could get really sick. You could even benefit from having all of your important information in one place if there was a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire, and we know those happen.
As much as I hate thinking about crazy unexpected emergencies, I’m excited about this emergency binder review because I think having one is important for every single family out there. You are saving yourself and your loved ones extra stress if something happens to you and your family.
Not married or don’t have kids yet? Even single people can benefit from having an emergency binder. Your information is just as important.
I get not wanting to do it, but my hope is that this emergency binder review will show you why it’s so important and how it’s actually easy when you have the right tools.
The In Case of Emergency Binder Review: Get Prepared for 2020
What is the In Case of Emergency Binder?
In this emergency binder review, you’re going to realize one major thing – the In Case of Emergency (ICE) Binder is SO much more than a place to collect your important documents and list of phone numbers.
This binder is a comprehensive way to organize your life that makes it easier for someone to take over for you if something were to happen.
I’m going to go through the sections more in-depth farther down in this emergency binder review, but let me tell you what kind of information you can organize in this binder:
- Medical information
- Important personal documents
- Insurance information
- Financial information, from checking to investment accounts
- Employer information
- Social media/website information
- Info about your pets
- Info about your children
- Burial/memorial service preferences
That seriously isn’t even all of it – it’s 90 pages! While that might seem like a lot, it’s highly organized.
Who made the In Case of Emergency Binder?
My Mom would definitely be the one in our family who would think about this kind of stuff, so it’s no surprise that this emergency binder was conceived by a bunch of moms – The Smart Money Mamas
Smart Money Mamas was founded in 2017 by Chelsea Brennan, an ex-hedge fund investment manager, who wanted to create a space for women to talk about the struggles and successes that come from managing a family. They hope to reduce fear around money talks and promote healthy financial relationships.
I’m obviously not a mom, but I think all of this really cool.
What’s in the In Case of Emergency Binder?
Like I said, this emergency binder is 90 pages long, which sounded like a lot at first. But as I started looking through it, I realized that if I were to put this type of information together on my own I would have overlooked so many things.
To make this emergency binder review as comprehensive as possible, I’m going to go section by section so you know what to expect.
- Contact information- The binder asks for basic contact information about your family, friends, and neighbors – basically the people you would contact in case of emergency.
- Personal information- Social security cards, birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses, divorce paperwork, adoption papers, etc.
- Medical info- There is a place to collect your health insurance information, preferred pharmacy, a list of medications, specialists, etc.
- Power of Attorney for Consent to Medical Care for a Minor- Okay, so this is the kind of stuff you need to know about in this emergency binder review. It’s the above and beyond that you might overlook if you were putting this together on your own. The Smart Money Mamas include a durable POA form, plus a page explaining why it’s important to have one.
- Caregiver information about your children- Not being a parent means I had no clue that there would be so many things to add for your kids. There is space for school information (including IEPs), who their friends are, what they like to do, favorite foods, etc.
- Caregiver information about your pets- There is space for information about your vet, pet sitter, vaccination records, and medications, etc. We have the weirdest dog ever, and this emergency binder gives us a place to tell a potential caregiver about that gross thing Strider does when he goes and sits by the door.
- Family traditions- This is another thing I would completely overlook even I had kids (it’s a very mom thing, which is why I’m clueless, yet appreciative). This section lets you include information about how you celebrate birthdays, holidays, and what your family’s favorite recipes are.
- Insurance info- Store information about every type of insurance you and your family might have.
- Finances- Your bills, usernames and passwords, credit cards, anything with recurring payments (like Netflix), debts, etc.
- A list of where to find important documents- Include your original copies of documents are and how to access them.
- Employee info- Your company name and contact info, where direct deposits go, employee portal login information, types of benefits, and more.
- Special info for military families- This is a super detailed section, asking for survivor benefits, retirement plans, etc. There is even a page of resources for military families to find more information – including the Department of Veteran Affairs and more.
- Social media info- Usernames, passwords, websites you own (especially important if you are set up for auto-renewal).
- Investment info- Monthly money tasks, investment strategies, professionals to contact, rental property information, what to do with life insurance money, etc.
- Burial and funeral arrangements- This is very hard stuff, but it really makes things easier for those you leave behind.
- Personal notes- This section was pretty intense to look at, and you might sob like a baby while filling it out-think, a place to tell your loved ones the things you’ve always wanted to say, like writing to your child “I always wanted to tell you…” I’m not crying, you are.
- Call logs- You can keep track of everyone you’ve called, when, who you spoke to, etc. I know how important a place to keep this stuff is when dealing with a major loss, so it’s nice to have this space included.
Why the In Case of Emergency Binder is useful
On their website, I found this quote from one of their customers, and I wanted to include it in my In Case of Emergency Binder review because it sums up why you need this binder:
“This binder isn't really about you, it's about the people you love and saving them a lot of work and energy during a difficult time when you can't help yourself or when you are no longer here.”
Whoa… that statement kind of hits you, doesn’t it?
No one wants to deal with this stuff, but when you have a tool like the ICE binder, it makes it a little more approachable.
M$M tip: One of the smartest things you can do to prepare for an emergency is to have a fully-funded emergency account. The recommended amount to save is 3-6 months' worth of expenses. If your emergency fund isn’t stocked, these articles are full of tips and motivation:
- 36 Ways to Save Money Fast
- 7 Reasons Why You Absolutely Need a Side Hustle
- How to Make Money: Top 44 Ideas for 2020
- How to Make $100/Day: Step-By-Step Guide
What I really like about the In Case of Emergency Binder
I’ll be completely honest with you, I’ve never shopped around for something like this, but I feel that $29 is a fair price for the level of organization, how it walks you through each section, and the details throughout.
It also comes with a money-back guarantee, so you know they trust their product.
It’s super functional
I’ve already said this in this emergency binder review, but I’ll say it again. The In Case of Emergency Binder is really well organized and will be useful. The structure makes a ton of sense.
It’s also important to mention how easy it is to navigate through such a large document and find the section you need… remember 90 pages. When you use it as a PDF, you can click on sections in the index to go straight to the page you need. They also give tips for using it as a hard copy, which you should keep on hand as well.
They make it easy to fill out
I went in thinking that Coral and I could probably fill this out in a weekend, but I honestly think it would take longer than that. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the creators realize that filling this out might feel a little bit like a job.
To ease you through it all, they give tips for filling it out in the beginning, but then they also start each section with a list of things to collect before you sit down and get to work.
They tell you when to update it
Your life is constantly changing, which means you’re going to need to update the ICE binder every so often, and the Smart Money Mamas give you tips on how and when to do that. They even tell you how to speed up the process of updating it – I like this.
My In Case of Emergency Binder review, final thoughts
When we talk about long-term planning we think of investing for retirement, but you can make long-term investments that come in the form of time and emotional capacity. That’s what this emergency binder is for.
No one ever wants to think about this awful stuff, but loss happens – not thinking about it and neglecting to prepare has further-reaching consequences. Being prepared is going to make all of the difference to your family.