How to Build a Financial First-Aid Kit for Disasters

November 14, 2018

By Carlo Versano

The wildfires in California have demonstrated, among other things, just how quickly a natural disaster can upend your life. Unlike most hurricanes, which are relatively predictable and slow-moving enough for days of preparation, wildfires can ignite out of nowhere ー and they're no longer confined to "fire season" in the parched west. Residents of Paradise, Calif., a town destroyed by the Camp Fire last week, did not even receive evacuation orders until they smelled the smoke. For dozens of them, it was too late.

But the tragedy can serve as a reminder of the importance of financial readiness, said Tony Steuer, author of the financial preparedness guidebook "Get Ready." In that book, he argues that everyone should have a "get ready kit" that they can take with them if they're forced to evacuate ーa resource that can also help the friends and family left behind in the event of a worst case scenario.

Here are his tips to Cheddar for starting a financial first-aid kit:

  1. Buy a binder. It's old school, but it still works. Put all your relevant financial documents in it.
  2. List your assets, home, and real estate holdings.
  3. Organize your retirement plans, debts, personal loans, living expenses, and taxes.
  4. Document important information for your heirs. Don't assume they already know it.
  5. Assemble an insurance portfolio that includes mandatory plans, like car insurance, and any other coverage you have. If you rent, don't sleep on getting renters insurance. It's cheap and will cover you when your landlord's coverage won't (and it won't).
  6. Evaluate your financial readiness. Make regular check ups, and do an overhaul after any major life event ー like marriage or the birth of any children.

"The best first-aid kit is the one that you have with you," Steuer said.

That goes for financial first aid, too.

For full interview click here.