When it comes to saving money and protecting your finances, it’s often the preventative steps that you take which have a huge effect on how your finances ultimately turn out. This is especially true when it comes to potential and unexpected disasters.
While most financial experts give good advice on how to prepare a basic emergency finance kit, it’s obvious that they have never lived through a major disaster themselves. Their steps make sense for preparing for a fire such as making an extra copy of all important documents and placing them in a bank safety deposit box. While this will suffice in many cases, it’s not helpful for something like a hurricane or earthquake where you will need that documentation in a timely manner and may not be able to reach it. Having lived through the 1995 Kobe Great Hanshin earthquake, here are some tips on preparing an emergency money kit:
Do not store your financial documents in a locked cabinet or desk drawer. Whenever I say this, I usually get someone saying that not doing so is not a safe way to keep this sensitive documentation. My opinion is that if someone is dedicated enough to break into your house, they will find a way to get into your financial papers if they want to no matter where you place them.
Instead, purchase a small duffel bag that can be easily thrown over a shoulder. Keep this next to your most likely exit if there is an emergency and you need to leave in a matter of minutes.
Get a waterproof bag in which you can place all your financial information.
While you need to sit down and think about exactly what you will need to put into your emergency finance bag, here are some basics that you will probably want to include. These should be copies and not originals:
Â· Car Title and Insurance
Â· Cell Phone with prepaid card
Â· Credit Card (exclusively for emergency use)
Â· Homeowner’s Insurance
Â· List of financial phone numbers (banks, insurance agents, emergency contacts, etc that you will have to contact)
Â· Mortgage Statement
Â· Passport (I use my old expired passport for this purpose)
Â· Photos (of each family member within the last year in case you’re separated and need to post signs)
Â· Video Tape (of all the contents in your house for insurance purposes)
Â· Wallet Contents (driver’s license, credit cards, etc) if you don’t place it in the same place each day or think you’d have trouble finding it in a few minutes at a moment’s notice)
While nobody wants to have a disaster happen, having you financial papers where you can grab them on the run will make life after the disaster much less stressful, time consuming and expensive. Having basic documentation will make it much easier to get claims settled and begin the process of rebuilding.
While making an emergency money kit was probably not one of your New Year’s Resolutions, it would be a great one to add. It will only take a couple of hours to put it all together (if it takes longer, then you were in definite need of this suggestion), but will be one of the things you’ll be most thankful for preparing if the need ever arises.