Creative Projects to Capture Memories and Get Organized

By John J. Ceparano, CPA/PFS, CFP®, M.TAX

Wealth Manager, Principal

May 28, 2020

Many of us have been self-isolating now for nearly two months.

Some of us are feeling the desire to maximize this time to devote to projects that will yield long-term benefits. What can you do to take advantage of this time?  Are there some projects that are both easy and productive?

Here are a few projects that may be interesting to you. We’ve come up with few ideas to help you share information, memories and stories with those you love for future generations, as well as get organized for the unforeseen:

Shelf Life – Digital vs. Hard Copy Photos

In these digital times, we often find ourselves saving photos on our computers or our phones.  You can create a hard copy memory book for your loved ones or just for your own home library. There are many services out there that make it easy for you to tackle this project.  If you are seeking some online vendors to assist you in getting digital versions into hard books, some popular services include: Shutterfly, Snapfish, Walmart, and Mixbook.

On the flip side, perhaps you have the actual original hard copy photos. When we had to begin social distancing, my wife and I decided to take out all the pictures we never put in books and place them on the dining room table, buy some photo albums and start creating books for the kids. As we started looking at the pictures, we kept stopping and taking pictures with our phones and sending them to our three boys. Guess what?  They loved them. Now they think we should take pictures of all of them and store them electronically to the cloud.

Food Memories – Recipe Book

Being Italian, I find that many of my fondest childhood memories involve family meals. Have you considered creating a legacy recipe book?  Perhaps it can be comprised of recipes from one individual or you can include extended family.  By the way, how much does a “pinch” of salt weigh? Only moms know! There are online resources to consider that will help you create a bound book, including Create My Cookbook, Shutterfly, Heritage, Cookbook Create, etc. Or you can easily also do it directly in hard copy format using – a plain three-ring binder or creating a custom one (e.g. Zazzle).

Your Legacy – Stories

I want my children to remember important family stories that my parents have shared with us over the years. Many have been forgotten, because they were shared with our children when they were young, but we don’t want them to forget those funny moments. Capturing these stories in written form or audio file is a way to make sure they will go beyond mental memories. You can collect them digitally or hard copy in a binder or Google Shared drive. There are also third parties that offer ways to capture stories such as Story Worth, Legacy Stories and Legacy Books.

Reflections – Journal or Time Capsule:

Several of our younger friends had their children fill out the kids’ edition of the COVID-19 time capsules worksheets that were all over social media a few weeks ago.  They want them to remember these times and be able to reflect when they are older. I couldn’t help but think it would be interesting for me as well as my adult children to reflect and capture our perspectives too.  Sharing precious memories is an act of love (I know I’m a sap for this stuff).

Perhaps keeping a journal during these times or using an online resource can help you capture

today to share tomorrow.  I found a journal my father kept when he was in high school (the late 40’s and early 50’s) and in the Marines. It was like stepping back in time and hearing his thoughts about things I never knew at that time in his life. The best part was reading how he found the girl he was going to marry, my “mom”. How cool is that?  Put your journal in a safe place and communicate with multiple loved ones as to its location. (If you’d like to use a Modera journal for this, we would be happy to send one to you when we return to the office – just let us know.)

Your Emergency Binder:

 It’s a good idea to gather information in one place so that you can grab it in case of an emergency where you need to leave your home suddenly. If you have moved past the “rock and chisel stage,” you might store a copy of this information on a thumb drive or backup drive.

The first step is brainstorming what types of information you should gather.  These could possibly include (1) copies of key documentation (e.g. the title to your house, your car title/lease, the wills, health care directives, social security cards, health insurance cards, driver’s license), (2) letters to your loved ones with your wishes, (3) home inventory (in the case of a fire or flood, for insurance purposes).  In addition, you may want to consider a handful of treasured photos or small amount of cash in a zipped pocket.

Please refer to our article “Being Prepared: Information Your Loved Ones Needs to Know” as this can be a good starting point for this project.  You can then build upon these basics. Reach out to your Modera Team who can walk through this checklist with you and answer questions you have on any financially related documents to include.

We hope you find these projects interesting and a fun, yet productive way to spend time during these unprecedented circumstances.  As always, your Modera team is here for you as a trusted resource and guide.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you would like to have a conversation on these times and explore.

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