Financial preparedness is always a good idea; however, it takes on even more importance when you consider the major flooding we’ve seen in our area recently. Members 1st Credit Union has had members affected. Some even faced worst-case scenarios like losing their homes.
Luckily, many people in our area had enough advance warning to move themselves, their loved ones and their possessions to safety, including important financial documents. But in a tornado or flash-flood situation, you may not have the luxury of time you’d need to safely protect and secure your financial documents.
We live in a high-risk area, and hands down the most important thing is planning for your family’s safety should natural disaster strike. But it is also incredibly important to have a financial plan for emergencies. Here are some helpful tips to start planning.
Save for emergencies.
This is the most important, yet also most challenging, thing to prepare for. It’s not a secret that having emergency funds at your disposal can make your financial recovery not only much easier, but also faster. Did you know, according to the Federal Reserve, 44% of U.S. adults are not prepared to cover an unplanned expense of even just $400? Make sure you are not caught in that same situation. Experts recommend saving three to six months of your regular living expenses, but even if putting aside that much isn’t feasible, saving a small amount from each paycheck will (and can) help. It’s also a good idea to keep some cash on hand should you need to buy emergency supplies in the event ATMs and credit card machines are not operational.
Insure your property.
Having homeowners or renters insurance and auto insurance are essential. It's a good idea to periodically review your policies to be sure you have the right type, as well as amount, of coverage should natural disaster strike. Homeowners insurance usually does not cover flooding, so you may need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Factor in your lifestyle and work situation – for example if you earn your livelihood with tools you own and keep at your home or in your vehicle – be sure those are covered as well within your policy.
Keep good records.
Keeping good records could be the difference in spending hours vs. spending weeks in figuring out what you have lost, need to replace and what you should be reimbursed for in a claims situation. When filing a claim, you will be required to provide an updated inventory of big-ticket items like cars, electronics or jewelry, including proof of purchase as well as original date / amount you paid. Equally important is to document your housing payments and income sources, medications you or family members take, immunization records and contact information for utilities, financial institutions, credit card companies, medical providers and insurance companies.
Protect your documents.
Figure out the safest place in your home to store essential household documents should natural disaster strike. Make an additional copy or two that you store in a separate location – maybe with a trusted friend or family member or in a safety deposit box. Also consider storing digital copies in a secure cloud-based platform, which would prevent them from being lost in the unfortunate event your home is destroyed.
For more information on preparing for and reducing the potential financial impact of natural disasters, we suggest you download this Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.
And as always, feel free to give us a call, or stop by one of our offices, to find out how Members 1st Credit Union can help you financially prepare should a natural disaster affect you and your family.
Mattis office: (314) 487-5628
Festus office: (636) 931-7144
Toll-free: (877) 487-5628