Are you one of those people who know precisely how many accounts you have with different companies and institutions? Do you have all of the details for each account duly noted and recorded in some organized fashion?

If you are and if you do, you are likely in the minority.

For purposes of this discussion, we will use a broader definition of the word ‘account’ than may immediately come to mind with most people. We will define an account as being ‘a situation where a person has a business relationship with a third party’.

With that definition in mind, a wide variety of accounts we may have immediately come to mind. They include accounts with:
- businesses we deal with on an everyday basis, such as banks, investment brokers, credit and loyalty card companies, department stores, utility companies and so on. In most cases we use their services and receive a monthly or annual statement or bill from them so we are quite familiar with them.
- clubs and organizations we belong to and have joined over the years – social, auto, libraries, athletic, networking, professional, dining and so on. In each case we have an account with them, whether active or dormant.
- companies providing insurance for medical, dental, home, travel, auto, accident, life and other forms of coverage.
- levels of government for such things as social services, income and property taxes, driver licensing and vehicle registration, health insurance and other services.
- newspaper and magazine publishers for subscriptions.
- and so on.

Then there are other accounts that may or may not immediately come to mind. These are accounts you may have opened – deliberately or inadvertently – over the years. Think about the following:
- If you ever visited a doctor, hospital, clinic or other medical practitioner for a service, you likely have an account there, because you probably filled in some sort of application in order to obtain the service
- If you ever rented a vehicle, stayed at a hotel or ate at a restaurant and agreed to enter a loyalty, contact or discount type program by submitting your contact information and e-mail address, you likely have an account with them
- If you use service companies to do such things as mow your lawn, do maintenance on a property or device such as an air conditioner, clean, inspect or fumigate, then you likely have accounts with them
- If you ever made a purchase over the internet, you likely have an account with each and every vendor you have dealt with, and with an internet payment service such as ‘PayPal’ if you used their services
- If you ever submitted a warranty form or registered a product you purchased with a manufacturer for electronics, tools, appliances, equipment or whatever, the name and contact information required on these forms become the basis of an account with them
- If you have ever used the services of a delivery company (i.e. Fedex, UPS) or a customs broker to clear an item, then you likely have an account with them
- If you use a computer, and you likely do if you are reading this, then you no doubt have had to enter license keys and the like, and register the software you purchased and use (operating system, utilities, applications, etc.) and guess what, you have an account with each and every one of them
- If you use a computer, and again you likely do if you are reading this, then you no doubt have had to enter your name and submit an e-mail address to a web-site in order to gain access to the site, obtain information, research a database, play a game or whatever and guess what again, you opened an account with each and every one of them every time you did that
- and so on

There are likely a number of other relationships you have with third parties (leases, contracts, loans, etc.) that are not even mentioned above because there are so many types of relationships that people can get into.

In all, and when you stop to think about it, most of us probably have many more account relationships than we realize.

Given that you may have quite a few accounts and probably more than you realize that you have before you started to read this article, the next questions that come to mind may be:
- so what?
- do I need to know the details of each one?
- do I care?
- if I have gotten by this long, should I change how I manage them now?
- should I try to manage them a bit better?

The answers to those questions are not always easy. You may in fact be doing okay and getting along just fine the way things are. If that is the case, great, there may be nothing more to do.

But the reality is that the world is changing and continues to change at a rapid pace. The increasing use of computers for conducting business with third parties is changing the landscape. In many cases it means many more account relationships than you previously had. It also means much more information to be concerned about and to keep track of – account names, numbers, log-in Id’s, passwords, credit information and the like. It may also mean information on model #’s, serial #’s and license keys if you are dealing with software.

Because of that, there is a strong case to be made for being much more formal and organized in managing account information.

Here are a few thoughts for you to consider about why you might want to consider changing or improving the way you currently manage all the information associated with your accounts if you use a computer.
1. Paper trails you could refer to and rely on in the past for information are disappearing as more and more businesses prefer to deal with you electronically and you opt to do without receiving a periodic paper statement or bill.
2. Many businesses have unique needs when it comes to log-in or sign-in identification phrases so you may have a number of them to remember.
3. Many businesses have unique requirements for the password you establish for accessing your account information so you may have a number of them to remember.
4. Many require you to select one or more questions and provide your answers to those questions so that they can use the information to verify you at some point in the future.

That can add up to a lot of information to manage.

Here are a few thoughts and questions for you to consider about what might happen if you don’t have all the information associated with your accounts well organized and accessible.
1. If any of your personal information changes (contact information, e-mail address, credit card number, etc.), would you know how and who to contact to advise them of the change?
2. If you had to cancel a credit card because of loss or theft, would you know who and how to contact any of the businesses who might use that credit card?
3. If you lost your wallet or purse, would you know who to contact to get replacements for all of the cards (bank, credit, loyalty, membership, identification, business and others) that you carried on your person?
4. If you required help with software installed on your computer, would you know the version, serial number, license key or what options and preferences you may have set when installing the software?
5. Should you become temporarily incapacitated in some way and a family member had to conduct business with your accounts on your behalf, would they know how to proceed and do that?
6. Were you to become more permanently incapacitated, would a family member or estate executive know how and who to contact to access, change or wind down your accounts?

It is quite a simple and easy task to record relevant information about your accounts in an organized and disciplined fashion. It is not onerous and does not take much time because changes do not happen that frequently. You simply have to be diligent about it, ensuring that you capture any type of change to the information whenever there is a change.

You can keep the information manually in a journal or log, or you can use a computer program to help – there are quite a few around. You should also let others know where the information is in case of an emergency.

It can save you and others a lot of time and frustration when the information is needed, as it undoubtedly will be some day.

So do yourself a favor if you haven’t already done so. Get on top of things and get organized when it comes to managing information about your accounts.

Bob Robinson

Author's Bio: 

Bob Robinson is a computer professional and consultant in the data management profession with over 30 years experience in data processing.
As the founder of RecordsKeeper Software, Bob’s passion is to provide ideas and software that helps people get control of their lives, to function better and to improve the ability to manage their affairs by having well organized information about everything that is of importance to them.
Presently, Bob is writing articles and building his business.
You can reach Bob at or visit the RecordsKeeper website at