Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquakes and Your Finances

Recently many states on the east coast experienced an earthquake ranging from 5.7 to 6.0. Aftershocks were felt in the Washington DC area of 4.6. Only minor injuries were reported, however many homes have cracks and other structural damages. When I arrived home from work small pieces of plaster were on my floors, cracks in various places in my home, my business phone fell on the floor and was off the hook, my office was a disaster, books and pieces of paper strewn all over the floor, and contents of my medicine cabinets and closets were on the floor.

Many people tried to use their cell phones but the networks were jammed. Many others just sat in disbelief. A friend from LA told me she didn’t know the east coast had earthquakes. Washington DC had one last year which was approximately 3.6 but it is rare to have them on the east coast. After the initial shock and fear has worn off people want to know what do I do now? Some questions must be considered when experiencing a natural disaster. Here are 10 financial tips to help survive a natural disaster.

1. Insurance. If you are a homeowner review your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if you are covered for natural disasters such as an earthquake. Contact your insurance company and report any damage. Contact a lawyer to get legal advice and protection in the event your insurance company becomes difficult with reimbursing you for your loss.

2. Notify. Contact all of your family and friends and employer and let them know what happened and if you need any assistance.

3. Inventory. Make a list of all the companies you do business with. Include the name of the company, mailing address, payment address, phone number, type of account and website and keep in a dry water proof location such as a waterproof and fireproof safe.

4. Identification. Make duplicate copies of your driver’s license, SSN and passport and birth certificate and store in waterproof and fireproof safe.

5. Disaster Kit. Make sure you have enough dry and canned food for a week including bottled water. Have enough clean clothes for at least 2-3 days. Keep an emergency kit in your car to include bottled water, canned food, blankets, a radio, batteries, 2 flashlights and a first aid kit.

6. Supplies. Purchase batteries, a portable radio/tv radio, extra blankets if needed, pillows, candles, matches, fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, paper towels, paper plates and napkins, plastic utensils, disposable cups, toiletries, etc., and store in dry cool location.

7. Service Providers. Make a list of any other service providers that you do business with: mechanic, plumber, electrician, handyman, painter, roofing company, HVAC, drywall expert, home structural repair company, lawyer, psychologist, marriage counselor, plumber, lawn care professional, etc. Include the name of the company, mailing address, payment address, phone number, and website which you may need to use after the disaster.

8. Budget. Create a budget to determine how much money you earn after taxes, monthly bills and expenses and how much you will need to replace basic necessities and contents in your home if lost or damaged.

9. Spend Wisely. Replace damaged or missing items by shopping at discount or outlet stores, buying in bulk and buying items on sale.

10. Live for Tomorrow. Document what you learned from this experience and steps to take if you ever have this type of experience in the future.

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