When preparing for the unexpected, it's important to have a financial plan in place, too. Like the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Tami Rechtenbach, director of member services at Dupaco Community Credit Union, offers these tips to help you be prepared - on the financial front - for a disaster:
- Have an emergency fund, or a "Don't Touch" account, for unexpected expenses or job loss. Aim for saving three months worth of your salary in the separate account, and consider directing a portion of each paycheck to automatically be deposited there. "Even if all they can afford is $5 a week, start somewhere and get in the habit of saving," Rechtenbach says.
- In your disaster kit, keep some extra cash on hand. ATMs and credit cards won't work if the power is out.
- Keep inventory of personal and financial information that's in your wallet or purse. Photocopy the front and back sides of each of your credit and debit cards, then store it in a safe or safety deposit box. "I just went through a personal situation with somebody who had their wallet stolen," Rechtenbach says. "In trying to cancel their credit cards, they kept saying, 'I wish I had a list of what was in that wallet.'"
- If your home becomes damaged by flood or fire, get out your camera and take photos of your possessions in case you ever need to show your insurance company what used to be there.
- Keep copies of important financial documents in a safe or safety deposit box.
- If your financial institution participates in shared branching, keep a list of your shared branch locations on hand. After Hurricane Katrina, displaced credit union members' ability to access their money at shared branches in neighboring states was an unexpected but very welcome benefit.
None of us like to think about the possibility of being the victim of an unfortunate and unexpected event, but a little advanced preparation will pay dividends should disaster strike.