A simple system for managing shared account logins

This post outlines the username, email, and password “code” system that my wife and I use to manage accounts that we both need easy access to.

“Which login do we use for Netflix??”

If you’ve had this convo with your partner before, then this post will be useful.

Here is how Jen & I have solved the problem of accounts/services that have a single login but that we both need to access routinely.

First, we have a shared email alias that forwards incoming messages to both of our main inboxes. Our alias happens to be tied to a website we have together, but you could just as easily set it up using a free email account and filtering rules too. 

We use this single email address as the main sign-up address for any account that’s shared: Netflix, Hotels.com, Verizon, etc. So any account information gets sent to both our email accounts. We also have a standard—and unusual—username that we use for any sites that require one.

Our password code system

We use a “code” system for the account passwords. This coding system is both easy-to-remember AND generates a unique password for each account. So if your account gets hacked, they only gain access to that one single password (don’t re-use one password at multiple sites!).

The password is comprised of four things: numbers, symbols, lowercase letters, and uppercase letters—and should be at least 8 characters long. This seems to satisfy the password requirements of most sites.

You then construct a “code” that is based on the name of the website you’re logging into, plus a standard set of symbols and numbers. So while the letters change based on the website, the rest of the password doesn’t. You just need to remember the “formula” for the password code to remember an unlimited number of unique passwords, each geared towards a site.

So if your password code is:

The first two letters of the website name in uppercase + the number “707” + two “$” symbols + the third and fourth letters of the website name in lowercase.

Then your Netflix password would be: NE707$$tf

And your Hotels.com password would be: HO707$$te

And your Verizon password would be: VE707$$ri

See? All you have to do is remember the ONE password code, which in turn gives you a key for each of the unique passwords. There are countless ways to set this up, using different symbols, more letters or numbers, a different order, etc.

However, here are a few recommendations that will help you meet more site password requirements:

  • Start with a letter
  • Don’t use 4 or more letters of the site name in a row
  • Don’t repeat letters or numbers more than 3 times in a row
  • Don’t use “1234” or “password” in the code

Now, you may run across some sites that have odd username or password requirements. So we have a couple alternative password codes (mostly to deal with sites that require passwords to be >12 characters) and alternative usernames that we can use if ours is already taken. 

While we also have all of our login information saved at home, we usually don’t need to look it up. If the normal password code doesn’t work, we simply try the alternative instead.

If you’re not keen on using a system like this, you can also use a password app. Our preference is to be able to remember our passwords ourselves and make them easily enterable, however, so we prefer this coding system to a separate app.

Use a free phone number

So what about sharing a phone number for things like store rewards cards? Well, we use a free Google Voice number for that, so that we don’t have to remember whose phone number we use at the grocery store versus the pharmacy and so forth. The number just goes to voicemail, as we don’t want to receive any actual calls there. It’s a real number though, so it’s accessible if we need it to be.

Google Voice is in the process of ending text message forwarding, but we use a workaround for receiving those important text message login verification codes. It’s a bit trickier, but you can set up message forwarding to your gmail account, and then create a filter rule there that passes the messages along to your email address.

So that’s it, that’s the system we use. For any shared account, we know the username, email address, password, and/or phone number we need. It takes a few minutes to set up, but it sure makes things easier in the future. If you have any related tips, or if this type of system has worked for you, let me know.

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