The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Four Ways to Keep Finances Intact in a Natural Disaster

To prevent a natural disaster from becoming a financial catastrophe, take the following steps:

1.  Stockpile savings.  An emergency fund with three to six months' worth of savings is a key part of any household financial plan.  But it's also important in an emergency.  Funds that you can draw on quickly and easily can be a lifesaver in the wake of a natural disaster.

2.  Protect your credit.  Part of protecting your finances involves protecting your credit.  Include the contact information for your creditors--such as your mortgage lender, credit card companies and utilities--in your financial preparedness kit.  If you have to evacuate, reach out to your creditors as soon as possible to request a temporary reprieve from payments.

3.  Review your insurance.  Your insurance policies can help you recover financially from a disaster, provided you have the right coverage.  Review your property, flood, life, and disability insurance policies once a year when you receive the new documents from your insurer. 

4.  Put together an emergency kit with important documents.  Some people rent bank safe deposit boxes for important papers.  It's also recommended to scan important documents and save them electronically, whether by emailing important documents to yourself, saving documents to a thumb drive or storing important information to the "cloud."  In addition, it's a good idea to prepare an emergency kit to store at home, containing photocopies of those you're likely to need after a disaster.  Your financial emergency kit should be in a fireproof, waterproof, lock box in a place that's easily accessible.  Once assembled, mark your calendar with a reminder to go through it in a year to make sure the contents remain current.  Some items to consider including in your financial emergency kit:
  • A small amount of cash
  • Birth, death and marriage certificates
  • Negatives of irreplaceable family photos stored in plastic sleeves
  • Social security cards
  • Mortgage/property deeds
  • Car titles
  • Insurance policies
  • Recent tax returns
  • Thumb drive of important documents

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