Independent Advice. Strategic Planning. Fiduciary Standard.

Fee-Only, Fiduciary, Independent: Three Important Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Financial Advisor.

Angela Wentz CFP®, MRFC is a Fee-Only financial planner located in Sarasota, FL serving clients locally and across the country.  

Sage Wealth Consulting, LLC provides financial planning and investment management to help clients organize, grow and protect their assets through life’s transitions.

As a fee-only, fiduciary, and independent financial advisor, Angela Wentz CFP®, MRFC is never paid a commission of any kind, and has a legal obligation to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice. 

8 Tips for Protecting your Child’s Financial Identity

In today’s digital society, children are too often targets of criminals. Did you know that you can review and freeze your children’s credit score (under age 16) at no cost? Here are our best practices for reviewing and monitoring your child’s credit and financial identity.

An Ounce of Prevention

8 Tips to protect your child’s personal information.

  1. Store Social Security numbers and other personal information, like Birth Certificates, in a safe place.
  2. Limit sharing. Many school, activity, and doctor forms ask for social security numbers. It’s wise to ask if you can simply provide the last 4 numbers or if an alternate ID number can be used. Ask how the data is protected and who has access.
  3. Don’t toss papers with sensitive information in the trash, shred them instead.
  4. Review your child’s credit periodically to assure no fraud activity. See below for how to check your child’s credit report.
  5. Consider a credit freeze. Although it takes effort to freeze and unfreeze, it is one of the best tools we have for preventing fraud.
  6. Consider purchasing for credit monitoring for yourself and your children.
  7. Enforce smart online habits. Be aware what apps your children are using and ensure the app (or your child) is not sharing personal information online, like full name and address.
  8. Educate your older children on the risks of identity theft and being smart with sharing personal information online.

How to Check your Child’s Credit Report

Generally, children won’t have credit reports. In fact, having a report can be a red flag that fraud is occurring. To find out if your child has a credit report, ask each credit bureau to check its records. Each bureau has specific instructions for these requests:

If a credit bureau has a credit report for your child, they will send you a copy of the report for your review.

Consider a Credit Freeze

Most people are unaware you can request a credit freeze for your child for free. A credit freeze will make it difficult for someone to use your child’s information to open accounts and help safeguard their credit until they are an adult. Of course, once the child wants to legitimately use their credit steps are taken to lift the freeze. To place a freeze, follow the specific instructions for each credit bureau. Note: You must contact all credit bureaus when freezing and unfreezing credit for it to be effective.

Consider Credit Monitoring

If you want to take additional steps to minimize your child’s risk, credit monitoring services are available through each of the credit bureaus and also through other third party providers, such as LifeLock. Generally, children’s credit monitoring services are an add on feature to your own plan. You may have access to discounted or free credit monitoring through your bank or credit card providers, so it’s smart to check for these benefits. It is important to note that these credit monitoring services do not prevent fraud, but help notify you if there is any activity spotted, so it can be addressed promptly.

Want to learn more? Review the FTC’s information on Child Identity Theft.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and educational purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, legal advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Angela Wentz, and all rights are reserved. See full disclosures.

Key Documents

Key documents to include in your fireproof, waterproof box in case of emergencies. These documents will be helpful in many circumstances, including evacuating for a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Government Documents  

  • Birth certificate  
  • Social security cards  
  • Copy of your driver’s license front and back  
  • Passport  
  • Military ID or discharge papers  
  • Other government benefits or special documentation  

Medical Documents  

  • Copy of Medical Insurance/Medicare cards  
  • Doctor’s name and number  
  • List of medications and pharmacy name and number  
  • List of allergies  

Insurance & Financial Documents  

  • Insurance Policies  
    • Insurance Agent Name and Number
  • List of Financial Accounts & Debts
    • Account Numbers & Contact Information 
    • Contact after a disaster, many creditors have programs in place  
  • Legal Documents (Will, Power of Attorney, Trust, Business etc)  
  • Ownership documents for home, cars, and other property  

Other Miscellaneous  

  • List of Passwords  
  • Pet Ownership & Vet Records 

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and educational purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, legal advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Angela Wentz, and all rights are reserved. See full disclosures.

5 Financial Essentials for Hurricane Season

With the increase in natural disasters impacting almost every corner of the U.S., it’s smart to prepare financially before disaster is on your doorstep. Here are five essentials to have in place before a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes.  

#1 Gather Important Documents 

Before trouble is on the way, gather and make copies of your essential documents. Invest in a waterproof, fireproof box that you can easily take with you in case of evacuation. It’s also wise to save a digital backup of these documents. Our clients have access to an online vault which can be used for this purpose. (Let us know if you need help setting it up.) Whether you store your documents physically or digitally, make sure they are in a safe and secure location.  Here is a sample list of documents that should be stored.

#2 Use your Smart Phone 

Use your phone to take a video of your home and its contents. Walk slowly through your home and narrate any details like the initial purchase price and model numbers of expensive items. Don’t forget to take a video of the garage, home exterior, and lanai/back yard.  

#3 Stock up on Cash 

Banks and ATM’s are often have limited cash before and after a natural disaster, or can be closed altogether. After a storm, stores may have trouble processing credit/debit transactions until electricity and internet connections are restored. Think about how much cash you may need for gas, food, and other necessities for at least a week. If you think you may need to evacuate, plan ahead for these expenses. Keep your emergency cash in a safe and easy to access place.  

#4 Check your Insurance Coverage 

Review your insurance coverage before a disaster strikes to ensure your policies are up to date and have the coverage appropriate for your area. Remember that homeowners and renters policies don’t cover damage from floods (including storm surge). It’s also important to note that homeowners insurance policies in some hurricane-prone states won’t pay for windstorm damage. Hurricane prone areas require additional insurance to address these issues. If you rent, consider purchasing renter’s insurance to cover the cost of replacing your personal property. Talk to your insurance agent before an emergency is looming to make sure you have the coverage you need.  

#5 Build your Emergency Fund 

If you don’t already have an emergency fund, now is a good time to start saving for three to six months of living expenses. During a disaster, many unexpected expenses can come up, including extra supplies, food, gas, hotel, and other expenses if you need to evacuate. If your home or property is damaged during the storm, repairs can be costly. Even if insured for your losses, insurance claims take time to process. In addition, your workplace may be closed temporarily resulting in a loss of income. Having an emergency fund will cushion some of these costs and allow you to focus on what is most important – the safety of your family.  

Additional resources for hurricane and natural disaster preparation can be found at the Red Cross site for emergency preparations and the Sarasota County Hurricane Preparedness site. Download FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit here. 

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and educational purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, legal advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Angela Wentz, and all rights are reserved. See full disclosures.