Life is unpredictable. When you least expect it some manmade or natural even can suddenly appear in your life and through your world into turmoil.
Be it a hurricane, wildfire, tsunami, earthquake or other natural disaster; you need to know what to do to handle the event and survive financially.
This guide will help you to financially prepare to evacuate in the case of an impending natural disaster.
The step-by-step suggestions will get you ready to ride out the crisis and make it back to pickup your financial life again.
The last thing I want you to worry about in a time of crisis is about your financial wellbeing. Let’s cross that off the list so you can focus on other things.
If You Have to Evacuate
Leaving your home and wondering if it will be there when you return is emotionally draining. If you follow the steps below at least a day before you may have to leave your home, or sooner, you’ll be in better shape to financially deal with the situation.
If you are trying to think of what to take with you, make sure you add your important papers to the list. This would include at least your most recent statement from:
It’s important to have this information with you in case you need to reach any of the above mentioned companies. Having a statement with your last balance, account number and the contact information on it will be extremely helpful.
The letter from the creditor, if you’ve settled a debt is important in case the creditor tries to collect on that debt later. That proof you came to an agreement with the creditor for less than the balance due is the only record you may have. It’s worth every penny of the forgiven debt. Don’t lose it.
Taking the blank checks is important in case your home is damaged and others have access to your property.
If you have any payments due for critical insurance items like homeowners policies, flood insurance, car insurance, or medical insurance, make sure those items are paid before you evacuate if you can. In the hurry and haste of a confusing situation you do not want those policies to lapse.
If you have an application for insurance, make sure it is sent out and postmarked before you evacuate. While not exactly the same situation, I did have a close friend of mine die with an unsigned life insurance application on his desk at home. If he had only signed it and mailed it his wife would have received some income from it.
Credit & Debit Cards
At least a day before you have to evacuate, make sure you have all your credit and debit cards with you even if they are cards you do not plan to use. Not only do you not want to leave them laying around your empty house but you might just need to use them in an emergency.
ATM & Bank
Depending on the size and location of the bank you deal with and the type of disaster, access to your money via an ATM or online may be down for a period of time. In order to prepare for such an outage, go to the bank ahead of time and take out as much cash as you can.
If your checking account is linked to an overdraft account. Have a clear understanding of how much cash you have left to access in your checking account. If you have some extra money in savings, move enough over into your checking account so debit or ATM transactions don’t drop you into using the overdraft. That can lead to expensive charges.
If you find yourself having to evacuate more than 100 miles from home and you will be using your credit card or debit card a lot in the new location, call the card customer service centers, numbers are on the backs of the cards, and explain what has happened. You don’t want them blocking transactions because they think it is suspicious activity.
Cell or Mobile Phone
If you don’t have you an unlimited cell or mobile phone plan, you are most likely going to use a lot of minutes in the upcoming days and weeks. It’s cheaper to increase your calling package than it is to pay for overage minutes. Call your cell phone provider and discuss an increase with them.
Make sure you have your phone charger packed to go with you.
Jewelry and Valuable Collectibles
If you have gold or valuable jewelry and small but valuable collectibles like coin collections, you should consider taking those with you. In case of an extended emergency they can be sold or pawned for some quick cash.
Portable Computer or Tablet
Be sure to bring a laptop or tablet computing device so you can check on your accounts on a wifi connection after you leave home.
Also make sure to bring all charging devices and at least one power strip so you can plug multiple devices into one outlet. Access to power may be limited following a disaster so you need the power strip to charge as many devices as possible and take advantage of your limited access time.
Logon to the U.S. Post Office website and fill out a hold mail request. The post office will hold your mail for up to 30 days for free. In case the post office begins delivering mail before you can return home, you don’t want to leave possibly sensitive financial information sitting in an empty mailbox. If need be you can stop by the post office later and pickup your mail or resume delivery if you can return home.
Guard every dollar you must spend with a clear intention and an awareness that it might be longer than you think before you can replace it. You need to protect your spending as if you are traveling across a desert of unknown dimensions with a limited amount of water.
I know you are in a tough spot but if you spend without some consciousness you will find yourself with empty pockets and an empty bank account. That is the worst spot to be in.
All of the items and information you have brought with you are very important and valuable or sensitive information. If you are evacuated to an emergency shelter, make sure if you have these items with you that you guard them to make sure someone does not take them. Public places make for easy access.