Hurricane season begins June 1, and preparation efforts are already underway in the Houston area. But getting ready for a hurricane season involves more than stocking up on canned goods and water. Preparing your finances is just as important as gathering your storm supplies. It is critical to quickly resuming your daily life following a storm.
There is often little warning before a storm, so preparation well in advance of a hurricane warning is essential to maintaining your financial stability in the event of a disaster.
Emergency Savings Fund
Make sure your rainy day fund is full. If you have recently made big withdrawals from your emergency account, commit to replenishing the fund before a hurricane hits. Consider cutting back on extra expenses, like entertainment and dining out, until youve saved enough for what could be a few very rainy, windy days.
In case you have to evacuate to another city, electronic access to your financial accounts allows you to pay bills, transfer funds and monitor your account online. Know your login and password information to all accounts.2
If you are already online and you wait to electronically pay your bills close to the due date, a power outage could prevent you from being able to access your accounts. Avoid late fees by scheduling payments online as soon as you receive your next bill. You can often choose the payment date so you are paying at exactly the right time for you.
Many ATMs may not be operating and most businesses including banks may be closed during the immediate recovery period. Take out a few days worth of spending money and store it in a safe, easily accessible place. A fireproof home safe that is portable and easy to grab in an evacuation may be a good place to stash your emergency cash.1
Also in your safe, it is wise to keep a few important documents like your insurance policies, birth certificates and any other essential documents that are difficult to replace. You may want to also include a list of your financial accounts and key information. You can also consider storing the files electronically on a USB or portable external hard drive in order to save space.2
Evaluate your insurance policies to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage. Be sure your home or renters, auto, and life insurance are all current. Read the fine print of your policy. Many homeowners and renters policies do not automatically cover water damage.2 If you are unsure what is covered, call your insurance agent to confirm and beef up your coverage if needed.
Consider storing receipts or pictures of your valuables with your important documents. Having documentation of your property can make the insurance reimbursement process easier if a disaster strikes.2
If you have questions about the best way to financially prepare for hurricane season, contact a financial professional.
By Marcellus Davis
Marcellus Davis is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Houston.
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