You may need cash for the first few days, or even several weeks. Have cash on hand, since ATMs and credit-card processing may be impossible.
Starting early and having a plan to pay your bills and access your important records and accounts help you get back on your feet faster and avoid problems with your credit when you need it most.
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Pre-disaster financial planning is essential for individuals and families to complete because disasters leave many Americans without access to finances or with expensive damages. Safeguarding your finances is easy if you start now. To help, consider the following:
- Keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a place where you can get at it quickly in case of a sudden evacuation. A disaster can shut down local ATMs and banks. The money should be in small denominations for easier use.
- Set aside money in an emergency fund. That can be tough to do on a tight budget, but it can be well worth the effort. The fund can be very helpful, not only in a disaster, but in other financial crises, such as during unemployment or when unexpected expenses like legal fees arise.
- Keep your emergency funds in a safe, easily accessible account, such as a passbook savings account or a money market account.
- Keep some funds outside the local area, since the disaster that affects you could also affect your local financial institutions. A mutual fund money market account in another city or state is one option to consider.
- Keep a low balance on a credit card that you would only use in an emergency.
Additional Resources : Financial Preparation
- Identify your important financial documents and place them in a safe space: You can use the FEMA: Safeguarding Your Valuables activity or the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help get you started.
- The USDA has created great resources to help get you started including Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit and the Disaster Recovery Log.
- Use the Consumer Action Handbook to avoid scams and fraud to protect your money and financial future.