There’s no doubt about it, it’s been a scary couple of weeks. With all the recent California earthquake activity, you might be feeling a bit on edge. Is the “big one” coming? Am I safe? What can I do to protect myself? While nobody knows what the near future holds for us here in Southern California, one thing is certain: you need to be prepared.
If the “big one” hits, you want to be ready—both physically and financially. Here’s a quick “Earthquake Preparedness Checklist” to review to make sure you’re prepared financially.
Review Your Insurance Policies
Read through your homeowners or renters insurance policies to make sure you’re covered for earthquakes and other natural disasters. If you’re like most people, you probably just skimmed this section when you took out the policy. Now is the time to examine it more closely to be sure you’re covered.
Often, homeowners ask, “Should I purchase earthquake coverage?” The answer, however, isn’t a simple yes or no. Several factors weigh on that decision: age of home, value vs. debt, and overall cost of coverage. Work with your licensed agent to determine what’s best for you and your overall Life Plan.
Take Inventory Of Your Belongings
Making sure your insurance policies cover earthquakes is only the first step. If your house and belongings are destroyed, how will you remember everything you lost (and more importantly, how will you prove those losses to the insurance company)?
The best way to do this is to go through your house with your smartphone or camera, room by room, and take photos and videos of everything you own. Make a list of the most expensive items and their value. Then upload your photos, videos, and lists online to online storage such as Google Docs or Dropbox. That way you’ll have easy access to everything you own if you ever need to make a claim.
Build Your Emergency Fund
Do you have an “untouchable” savings account dedicated solely for emergencies? Further, do you have cash savings safely stored in your home? If not, put enough money aside in a safe place that would allow for you to purchase gas or food for a few days. Remember, in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster ATMs and credit cards may not work (no electricity), therefore you want to have a minimum of three days of living expenses saved.
Most people know they should have an emergency fund, but shockingly few people actually have one. (1) If disaster strikes, having this cushion could make all the difference.
Create A “Financial Obligations” Plan
In the chaos following a disaster, it’s easy to forget about important financial obligations. Writing out a plan ahead of time ensures you’ll remember every vital step.
Your plan should include tasks like canceling credit cards lost in the disaster (and requesting replacements), paying bills or forwarding debts to your temporary address (or switching to electronic bills). Despite the ease of online transactions, a computer might not be handy or available in the time of need.
Cover Your Bases – Have a Plan for Everyone to Connect
Earthquakes don’t make an appointment! What would happen if you or family members are at work or school when an earthquake struck? Discuss with everyone, especially those who care for others such as children or the elderly, “who will do what and when.”
If you think traffic is bad on a normal day, imagine a disaster. Staying put may be your only option, therefore have a prearranged plan that considers the feasibility of not getting home. Have extra shoes and a change of clothes in your car or at your desk. You may never need it—but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
After all, the odds of a devastating earthquake may be low. But the odds you’ll need enough money to survive after you retire? That’s almost guaranteed.
If you’re interested in creating a financial “Life” plan to make sure your needs are met in retirement, we at Mason Life Planning would be happy to help. Contact our office by calling (323) 254-3072, or simply click here to book your free 30-minute introductory phone consultation today!
About Mason & Associates, Inc.
Mason & Associates, Inc., was founded in 1989, specializing in Life Planning for individuals, families, and small businesses. Life Planning places a person’s core life values at the heart of the advice process and focuses on the human aspects of financial planning.
As a client, your personal story is key to our planning process. That is why we strive to build a close relationship that will encompass every aspect of your life. Together with our team of professionals, we guide you through the process of identifying what is important to you, your goals, your dreams. We then put into place a financial road map to set you on your way toward achieving your objectives.
Our responsibility does not end there. As you encounter bumps in the road, changes in goals, or any other roadblocks, we are there to offer advice and guidance. We are there to celebrate your successes and cope with your challenges. We work alongside your other professionals, such as your attorney and your CPA, to be sure all of your legal and financial needs are aligned.