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Be your family’s financial action hero during an emergency

Is your family prepared for a natural disaster, like a major flood or earthquake? It’s hurricane season, and, with memories of devastating storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, you might already be stockpiling supplies or planning an evacuation route. But there’s something else that should be on your list, too: emergency financial planning. And one way to do that is to think like an action hero.

We’ve all seen the movies, right? Action heroes successfully deal with disaster, mayhem, and emergency situations – everything from deadly viruses to alien invaders rampaging through US cities.  Here are some ways to channel your inner financial action hero and be prepared, no matter what the disaster.

Action heroes have funds and supplies ready

While we hope you’ll never face a disaster as dire as some we see in the movies, you can be your own family’s financial action hero and have funds and supplies ready when a disaster or emergency strikes. 

The first and possibly most important step you can take is to be financially prepared for major emergencies or even minor setbacks before they happen. You’ve probably heard that it’s smart to build an emergency fund to help absorb the financial shock of events like unexpected vehicle repairs, emergency travel, or home repairs not covered by insurance. Any or all of those events could happen in a disaster scenario – would you be able to pay the extra costs if they did? Part of your emergency fund should be in cash, in case banks are closed or ATM machines aren’t working. (But be aware that storing cash at home leaves it vulnerable to fire, theft, or other risks.)

You should also think about creating an emergency supply kit that has a few days’ worth of food, medicine and other necessities for you and your family. In a disaster the supply chain can be disrupted, and having a properly stocked emergency kit can spare you from paying the inflated prices that often follow a disaster.

Action heroes have back-up plans

At the end of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the T-800 terminator has an epic final battle with the villain terminator, the T-1000.   It looks like the T-800 is down for the count, but its emergency back-up system brings it back online.  Like the T-800, you can have your own back-up system during an emergency if you keep your personal records and financial account numbers safe.

You’ll have more peace of mind if you have your important data – like checking and savings accounts, insurance policies, and creditor information – backed up in paper files, on secure cloud storage or with some other option where you can find and access it. You should also have an emergency contact list of people you can rely on; action heroes know that they can’t always get the job done on their own. Setting up automatic financial transactions like bill pay and direct deposit can also be really helpful, as you may be away from your residence for a significant amount of time. Emergencies are stressful enough – you can dial down the stress level by having critical information readily available and making sure your routine financial transactions will be uninterrupted.

Action heroes protect their identities

In the action thriller, “The Bourne Identity,” a former CIA agent wakes up with amnesia about his personal identity, but doesn’t forget his training and fighting abilities. He begins to piece together his past, and finds his safe deposit box in Zurich. The box contains a large sum of money, numerous passports, and identity cards.  You may not wake up one morning with amnesia, but it’s definitely helpful to keep important documents – like passports, military orders, and financial records – in a secure, waterproof and/or fireproof place, or with someone you trust. Besides being protected from identity thieves, you may need those documents to resume your normal financial routine or to get emergency services from aid groups or government agencies.

Action heroes figure out whom to trust

In disaster films, great action heroes figure out whom they can trust. You should do the same. Emergencies and disasters often attract scammers who prey on victims by pretending to be from government agencies, charities or businesses that can replace your losses – for a price.  Make sure you deal directly with organizations like the Red Cross , military aid societies and federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency , not some unknown person who drives up in an unmarked van. You can also visit us for more advice on how to financially prepare for or recover from an emergency.

Remember, thinking like an informed consumer and planning like a financial action hero can help you face any disaster with the confidence, that – just like the Terminator — you’ll be back!  

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