As a self-described planner, I am always making a list and getting organized for every event. No, I am not a control freak, well most of the time, but I do believe that being prepared and planning ahead can allow you to be calmer in the face of chaos.
It wasn’t too long ago I remember listening to the news talk about preparing for SuperStorm Sandy. As a New York resident, I was certainly concerned about what would happen when the storm hit. I gathered the necessary items they suggested and felt calm knowing that in the event the worst happened, I was at least as prepared as possible.
With the concerns about viruses, weather disasters, and other unforeseen events, it occurred to me that while we may have extra bottles of water, medicine, and canned food, how prepared are we for a financial emergency?
There are different kinds of emergencies, but having a list of what you need handy is a great start. Here are some things to consider having or doing prior to a financial emergency:
Keep some cash handy. I don’t mean having thousands of dollars shoved in a shoebox, but having some cash on hand allows you to operate if there is a run on the atm machines.
Make sure you have a copy of all your account numbers for your financial assets. In addition, have a list of names, phone numbers, emails and physical addressed of the financial institutions you interact with.
Keep copies of all documents in a safe location in the event of flood or fire.
Have an emergency credit card ready. This card needs to have a credit limit that would allow you to stay in a hotel for several days, get food and even provide necessary transportation.
Build your liberty fund. Whether it is so you can leave that job you loathe, the relationship that is toxic, or to pay bills if you can’t work because of quarantine. You should have 6 months worth of living expenses saved up for any and all emergencies.
Have back up’s for childcare. If there is an outbreak of some virus and your normal childcare facility closes or school is out, you will be glad you have a few alternatives at the ready.
Review all your company’s benefit plans and time off policies. Know what you can and can’t do. This includes what happens if you have a short term disability or have to relocate temporarily.
Properly fund your HSA account. A Health Savings Account is typically used with high deductible health plans and is largely for co-pays and deductibles, but it can be used for medicine prescribed by a doctor. It also covers vision and dental care. And if you don’t need it during the year, it rolls over. If you fund this every year to its maximum, it can even allow you to buy long term care insurance later in life.
Make sure the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement plans are up to date.
Have your will and advanced directives done and shared with those who will be affected. Consider if a power of attorney document should be on hand too.
Make sure all your insurance policies are paid and up to date. If you don’t have insurance, now is the time. This includes everything from car, homeowners, liability, health, disability and life insurance. Remember, you can’t go back and fix a mistake after the fact. Secure your insurability while you can.
Having all this will at least give you some peace of mind. Life and money are inextricably linked whether we like or not. Being prepared gives you the best chance to not be caught off guard.
Ande began her 20+ year career as an adviser and quickly realized that many people weren’t taking into account was how emotions play a huge factor in financial decision making. Leaving behind her practice to focus solely on educating both advisers and consumers alike, she became an expert in behavioral finance. Author, speaker, thought leader, and money educator, Ande is helping women to take control of their money.
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