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Preparing Your Finances for Emergencies

Disaster Relief

This article provides an outline of items to gather in order to prepare your finances for emergencies. This article was written by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Account Information

If your house is destroyed, missing a credit card payment may not seem like a big deal. However, ignoring credit card or loan payments could cause your interest rates to jump, costing you more money, and could damage your credit score when you’ll need access to credit most.

If you’re affected by disaster, you’ll need to contact your creditors as soon as possible and let them know about your situation. Most of them will have ways to help. Also, if you are unable to live in your home, check with your utility companies (e.g. electric, gas, cable) to see if you can suspend your utilities to add extra money to your budget. You may want to consider signing up for direct deposit with your employer and electronic bill payment with your utilities to make receiving income and paying bills easier.

Make a list of account and customer service numbers for:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Credit and charge cards
  • Mortgage and home equity loans
  • Auto loans
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Cable, telephone, and utility companies

Personal Records

Personal records documents can be replaced, but it can take time. Plus, you may need these documents to verify that you are the owner of the property that was damaged or destroyed in the disaster to receive insurance help or other assistance.

Gather and make copies of:

  • Identification, including your driver’s license or passport
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates and divorce decrees
  • Titles, deeds, car registrations

Financial Records

Again most financial records can be replaced, but you will need your insurance information if your property is damaged, or if you or a family member needs medical care. Keeping this information safe will also help you avoid trouble if questions arise later about your investments, taxes or workplace benefits.

Gather and make copies of:

  • Insurance policies
  • A room-by-room inventory of your belongings
  • Investment records
  • Income tax information
  • Pay stubs and employer benefits records
  • Wills, living wills, trusts, medical powers of attorney

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