As Hurricane Earl moves through the Caribbean and bears down on the eastern seaboard of the U.S., many are planning escape routes or making sure their shelters are well-stocked with food. Aside from the threat of physical damage, hurricanes also pose a threat to individuals’ bank accounts through property damage or disorganization of personal finances.
Besides hoping your home isn’t caught in the path of the storm, you can take some additional precautions if you are in a region that could be hit by a hurricane.
The first and most important step you can take toward safeguarding your finances is making sure you have physical copies of all the financial documentation you might need in the case of emergency. Here is a list of the documents you should definitely keep on you when a storm hits:
1. Cash — Because you might not be able to use ATMs, credit cards or debit cards in the case that your city is impacted by a major storm, carrying cash is the safest bet. You might be able to buy necessities such as food or drinks with the most basic form of currency.
2. ATM/Credit/Debit Cards — Just because cash is the safest bet in a disaster scenario doesn’t mean you should ditch the plastic. It’s important to have available alternatives to the cards, but they could come in handy if you need extra cash or are running out of funds and need to make a purchase using a credit card. In addition to carrying your cards, make sure to either carry your checkbook or know your checking account number and routing number. That information could come in handy.
3. Legal ID — This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s the most important document of all. You shouldn’t leave your house without your driver’s license or legal identification under normal circumstances, so you definitely shouldn’t head out without your ID under dangerous circumstances.
The key to emerging from a disaster financially unscathed is proper preparation. You can ready yourself by making sure some certain aspects of your personal finance picture are in line. One of the best things you can do if you’re worried about hurricane season is to automate your personal banking as much as possible.
Starting direct deposit service is a good idea. This way, your employer can automatically pay you and you will receive money without needing to be present at work or at home to collect and deposit a check. Online bill pay is also a good service in which to enroll for many of the same reasons. If you set up your accounts with online bill pay, you won’t fall behind on your monthly payments no matter what happens. Enrolling in online banking and subscribing to e-statements can save you a lot of trouble during less-than-ideal circumstances. New technology allows you to keep up with your balance online or even on your phone, so why not sign up?