As humans we go through life hoping for the best, looking forward to the good and enjoyable things that will enter into our lives.
But unexpected things happen all the time.
It reminds me of my friend who suffered a stroke earlier this year. I’m sure she never saw it coming. It just struck in the middle of the night when she was alone. If it weren’t for her cleaning lady finding her in the morning, she would have died.
How prepared are you for the unexpected?
You can’t predict when a tragic event will strike, but you can plan for it. The key to getting through those tough times we’ll all face, is to take the steps to protect yourself and your family now.
Here are some sobering statistics:
- Nearly 57 percent of the people in this country don’t have a will
- 29% of American’s have zero dollars in an emergency fund
- 23% have enough to cover less than six months of living expenses
- More than 60% don’t have cash on hand to cover an unexpected expense.
Plan For The Unexpected
1. Build An Emergency Fund
Building an emergency fund is the single most important action you can take starting today.
When I lost my job many years ago, I had nothing in my savings account. Zero. The panic I felt because I didn’t have access to any money was frightening. Luckily I made it. I kept a roof over my head and kept putting food on the table.
Many people aren’t so lucky.
During the economic collapse that started in 2009, we saw so many people lose their homes. If they had planned for the unexpected, many of them would still be in their homes today.
Set aside money every month. You should have at least three months’ of living expenses available to you. Six months or upwards of a year is even better.
Make sure your emergency fund is liquid, meaning you should keep it in a savings account or money market fund – somewhere you can access it on short notice.
Hopefully, you’ll never need this money. But if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
2. Get Your Financial House In Order
No time like the present to get your paperwork in order.
You should have one place where all the important financial records for your family is kept.
In my family, I have a particular file drawer that houses all important legal and financial documents. My daughter and son-in-law know what drawer it is and have even gone through it, with my permission of course, so they know where they can find what they need if something were to happen to me.
It gives me great piece of mind knowing I have left my affairs in the right order for them.
3. When A Loved One Dies
The death of a spouse or partner can be devastating. If your spouse or partner managed the majority of the financial responsibilities, even just paying bills could seem overwhelming. But you can work your way through it. It is manageable.
Try not to make any long-term decisions right away. Take your time. Gathering the proper paperwork is the first step in settling your spouse or partner’s affairs.
Start with the following:
Death Certificate: The death certificate will be needed for many financial procedures you will encounter.
Insurance Policies: These will help you determine benefits you are entitled to.
Marriage Certificate: If you can’t find your marriage certificate, you can get a copy from the courthouse of the county you were married in.
Certificate of Discharge From the Military: If your spouse or partner was in the military, you might need his or her certificate of discharge to collect benefits.
Your Spouse or Partner’s Most Current Will
Complete List of all Property
4. Learn About Money and Your Financial Affairs Now
If you’re married or in a domestic partnership, before anything unexpected happens, make sure you’re fully aware of your finances.
Get educated. Learn where all the paperwork is located and read it so you fully understand it.
If you’re in debt, start a plan to get out debt.
If something unexpected was to happen, having the additional burden of paying off that debt could mean the difference between staying in your home and having to leave it.
[tweetthis]Now’s the time to free yourself from financial worry. [/tweetthis]
Put these strategies in place and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.