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Today is a day to remember the 2,974 people who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and those affected by it. There are many ways to mark such events, and most peopledo so in a personal way. I believe the best way is to take a lesson from a tragedy and apply it to your own life. A little bit of good can come about from even the worst tragedies.

Tragedy can strike when we least expect it. While this is not something to obsess about, keep it in mind when looking at life goals. Here are a few personal-finance lessons you can take away from the 9/11 tragedy. Adopting them may be a wonderful way to pay remembrance, tribute and respect to all those who lost their lives on that day.

It's not about the money

One of the biggest mistakes people make about personal finance is assuming it's about making money. Personal finance is about what money will allow you to do. It's about having enough so you can use it in important ways, such as spending more time with your family and loved ones. Money is simply a tool.

If you're working just to make money or accumulate as much wealth as possible, today is a good day to step back and think about priorities. Is working a 60-hour week really that important if it means missing your kids growing up? While we all assume there will always be another day, 9/11 showed us this assumption is not a guarantee.

A will is important

You probably have a thousand excuses why you haven't gotten around to writing out a will, but none are good. Tragedy can unexpectedly strike anyone of any age.

Creating a


is one of the most compassionate steps you can take in regard to your family. By clearly stating your wishes, you leave one less hassle for your relatives during an already stressful time. The last thing anyone wants to deal with when mourning theloss of a loved one is money matters.

Writing a will ensures your financial and non-financial assets are distributed the way you wish them to be instead of giving the government control. If you fail to create a will, state law will determine where your assets go, not your family members.

You can get this started today by seeking out the free information on wills that

Nolo Press


Organize important documents

Know where important


are and let your spouse know as well. The easiest way to do this is to create a central, easy-to-access location to store them.

Create a master list so others can make sense of the documents. Even if you don't want people to easily find certain papers while you are alive, it does little good if they can't locate them after your death. Being unable to locate important documents such as bank accounts, insurance policies, professional contacts, investmentaccounts, retirement accounts, real estate documents and wills duringan emotional time creates even more stress for those already suffering.

Purchase life insurance

The first question to ask is whether you need life insurance. Life insurance is for those who will leave behind dependents or others who would suffer a financial hardship if their income were no longer available. If there is anyone who relies on your income, you want to protect them with term life insurance.

While no amount of money will make up for the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want to do is leave those who care about you withworries about money and how they are going to survive. A ruleof thumb when purchasing term life insurance is to get eight to 10 times your annual income, although you will need to adjust this to your particular circumstances.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs