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Financial Preparedness Tips

February 20, 2020


Rebuilding after a disaster or emergency can be a difficult challenge for people at every level of income. In these stressful situations, having easy access to your personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is key to beginning the rebuilding process as quickly as possible. Taking the time now to collect and protect your critical documents will pay off in the future, giving you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, ensure you are ready to start rebuilding as soon as possible with all the necessary information.

Look over the following list and confirm you have taken all these steps to prepare for an emergency:

  • Collect all financial and critical personal, household, and medical documents and maintain it in a secure location, readily accessible.
  • Establish an emergency fund that can be accessed in times of crisis. This could mean keeping a small amount of cash at home in a secure place in case you can't get access to your bank accounts.
  • Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them already. Review your policy to ensure you're covered in the event of all possible emergencies. For example: standard homeowners insurance often will not cover flooding, so you may need to purchase separate flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Make photo copies of all of your debit and credit cards and store them in a safe place so you have your account information at the ready in the event of an emergency.
  • FEMA has an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) with a wealth of information to help you prepare your emergency financial plan.

Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)

If there's anything we want you to take away from this article, it's how important it is to have a financial plan ready for an emergency. FEMA's Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) can help you prepare for surprises and reduce the financial impact of disasters that could otherwise hurt you, your family, or your business.

At Home

The EFFAK is an excellent guide to ensuring your personal financial preparedness, but you should also consider downloading a secure mobile app on your phone where you can store electronic copies of important documents for immediate access in the case of an emergency. You should also consider storing physical documents in a safe deposit box at your local financial institution if they offer those services.

The most important documents to have in an emergency are your financial and medical records which are critical to jump-start the recovery process. Take the time to make sure you have the following documents secured and accessible in the event of a disaster:

Household Identification

  • Photo ID of all household residents
  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security card to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA
  • Military service
  • Pet ID tags

Financial and Legal Documentation

  • Financial records and obligations
  • Insurance policies
  • Sources of income to maintain payments and credit
  • Tax statements to provide contact information and apply for FEMA assistance

Medical Information

  • Physician contact information in case medical care is needed
  • Copies of health insurance information so care is not interrupted
  • Immunization records
  • Medication

Insurance Information

Purchasing insurance for your home or business property helps ensure you have the financial resources necessary to repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged.

Household Contact Information

  • Banking institutions
  • Insurance agent
  • Health professionals
  • Service providers
  • Place of worship

For Organizations

Businesses and other organizations are only as strong as their employees, which is why an employee or member's financial stress can have a ripple effect that could negatively impact your organization. You should encourage people throughout your organization or workplace to practice financial preparedness. Here are some ideas you can use to help promote emergency preparedness in your business or organization:

  • Hold an informal lunch meeting to discuss financial preparedness.
  • Organize a presentation for your next staff meeting.
  • Include financial preparedness tips in your monthly staff newsletter.

Get Your Benefits Electronically

Disasters can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks at a time. If you rely on Social Security, pensions, or other regular benefits, you should consider switching to electronic payments to ensure your income is not interrupted by an emergency. This also eliminates the risk of checks being stolen from the mail. We recommend you consider these methods of payment instead of receiving physical mail:

  • Set up direct deposit to your checking or savings account. Federal benefit recipients can sign up online or call (800) 333-1795.
  • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper.

These tips and suggestions were taken from the Department of Homeland Security’s Financial Preparedness. You can learn more about how to prepare for disasters by visiting Ready.gov

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