When natural disasters strike, are you financially prepared for the aftermath?

Image of Bill Partin Sharonview CEO
by Bill Partin
Sharonview Federal Credit Union

September 2017

With news of Hurricane Harvey and Irma ripping through the southern states, people are frantically searching social sites and blogs to find creative ways to protect their personal belongings. Here are two critical tips for protecting your finances during an environmental disaster.

  1. Gather critical financial information able to be accessed and kept safe at all times

    While you madly scramble to preserve your family photos and mementos from the pouring rain, don’t forget to protect important financial documentation, too. These documents don’t just include any paperwork from your financial institution. Remember, you will also need identification, such as IDs, SSN cards, birth certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, etc. Don’t spread out your documents. Keep all important documents, financial, medical or personal in one location, in addition to photos of high-dollar items. If possible, include model numbers for insurance purposes.

    Preserving documents and photos can be hard. Even air-tight containers can be faulty when exposed to the harsh conditions of a natural disaster. We suggest a two-step preservation system. First, create electronic copies of each item. When you do this, ensure it’s in a secure environment. Secure online cloud services, CDs and USB drives are all good options to house your information. Before you take this step, do the research and choose the safest storage device for your electronic files. Next, store the paper documents and photos in a waterproof environment, such as a portable safe or lock box. Wrap them in plastic for extra protection, in case of leakage. With important documents, there is no such thing as too much protection. Place them in a plastic holder and wrap in plastic again before putting it in a safe.
  2. Natural-Disaster-Planning

    Maintain emergency savings account/emergency cash at all times

    While preservation is an important part of preparing for a natural disaster, it shouldn’t be the only precaution you take. Preserving important information is an in-the-moment action you can take when disaster strikes. Having an emergency savings account is a step you can take months, even years before the danger approaches. Similar to the philosophy of Sharonview’s Health Savings Account, an account that helps you build up funds for unexpected medical expenses, an emergency savings account does the same for when your home is wrecked by environmental forces. Set aside a portion of each paycheck into your separate emergency savings account and leave it alone until expenses skyrocket from damages and repairs. It’s never too early to start one. Even if you’re in a location that doesn’t often endure natural disasters, create one anyway. It only takes one abnormal storm to devastate an area. Alongside your emergency savings account, consider keeping a small stash of cash in your safe with your preserved documents for those moments when credit or debit capabilities are down.

Natural disasters happen. Don’t get stuck when they do. Partner with a reliable organization like Sharonview to help you prepare when disaster strikes. From savings accounts to financial counseling, Sharonview provides the tools to help you feel financially secure in the midst of chaos.

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