Tag Archives: emergencies

Week 81: Prepare for Catastrophe

Monday, 11 December 2017

This country has been through several hurricanes this year.  Now, the west coast is burning a second time.  In October, fires raced through northern California, destroying homes (8900) and wineries and wildlife and businesses.  Now, in southern California, fires are racing throughout, from the middle of the state to the Mexican border.  At times, the east coast faces horrible weather in winter, as does the south and midwest.  In face of this, what are some of the things people do to prepare for such potential catastrophes?

A quick web search reveals multiple sites which are helpful.  Depending on the needs of the area, suggestions vary.  These include:

  • Stock up on emergency supplies, such as water, non-perishable food, medications, first aid, cleaning supplies for yourself and your things, tools, pet supplies, and a generator.
  • A family emergency plan to include discussions about contacting each other and what to do for injuries.  In other words, talk about it and make decisions.
  • Secure your property by making sure locks work on doors and windows, bring in furniture and plants.  Think about what you have outdoors – can something you don’t bring in be used to break in to your property?
  • Know what you are likely to expect.  Hurricane?  Tornado?  Blizzard?  Fire?  Flood?  Earthquake?  Prepare accordingly.
  • Have emergency names and numbers on hand and be sure everyone knows who to get in touch with in case of separation.  Know who you can contact in your neighborhood – who you can trust.
  • Check your insurance policies.  Are they up to date?  Can you increase coverage in case of a natural disaster?  Will a natural disaster become an “act of God” and be denied by your carrier?

To tell the truth, most of us don’t want to talk about emergencies and their potential consequences.  It’s scary.  Preparing for disasters costs money.  That is a fact, and for those who are cash-strapped, it is an additional burden.

Financial planning and responsibility requires an eye to catastrophe.  This is why it is recommended as a primary goal in debt reduction to have an emergency fund.  Ramsey suggests $1000.00.  Others suggest enough cash to survive 6 months.  Everyone needs one, and it will vary with your needs.  I also suggest a monthly investment in emergency supplies or changes to your environment.  This may mean including money to buy bottled water or dehydrated food.  It also means finding a place to store these items so you can get to them.  How they are stored is also important.   It seems that no one discusses where to store these things . . .

Catastrophes and emergencies happen.  We forget about them because we are generally not living in survivalist mode, meaning worrying daily about food, shelter, clothing, and water.  Think about them – your survival may ultimately depend on preparations you make today.

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Monday 115: April is the Cruelest Month!

Monday, 24 April 2017

This is the first line of T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land.”  Given this is all about spending money and tax season, and waste, it seems appropriate!

April is the month when our taxes are due – federal, state, and property.  It is also the month when our specialized insurance is due, for things like floods and such.  We also had extra bills to pay – dental and veterinary.  Altogether, if we had not been prepared for the known bills, and if we had not saved, we could have been really up the proverbial creek!  All told, between all these, the costs came to $5000.00 for April alone . . . we had already paid the state taxes, so!

The bad is the fact we had to pay for needed dental work and vet bills!  They weren’t on the budget!  How dare they show up!

The good is that because we have been saving, and paying off bills, our cash on hand could take the $700.00 hit for the dental and vet bills.  Not happily, of course, but necessarily.  While we are far from having F-You money, we certainly are at a point where we don’t get F’d!  A year ago it would have been a different story.

Future plans at the moment are deciding how much we want to save over the next four or five months.  I want to increase our rate of savings, but that means we will slow down our debt reduction.  Right now, it feels a bit more important to have more cash on hand.  We have a vacation coming up, and I don’t want any surprises.  I also think I want to have a 10K amount in the bank, even with the vacation.  As well, one of our cars needs some work, to the tune of about $1000, which I want to do in May.  The air conditioner is out in the Acura (14 year old car).   Then it is clear sailing until December.  Unless, of course, Murphy decides to visit.

Revisiting Dave Ramsey is also on the agenda.  It is so important to keep frugality and debt reduction in the forefront of daily activities.  As a result, I am listening to his show, and his YouTube presentations.  Even a year or so into our debt reduction, it is easy to slide back – we do like to spend money and it is so important to continue to work on changing this (natural?) tendency.

A year of hard work is showing results, even if it seems eternally slow.  We can meet financial emergencies more readily, as well as not feel stressed by large annual expenses, such as insurance premiums and taxes.