Iowa has its share of natural disasters, from tornadoes to floods to wildfires sparked by the drought. While it’s important to have an emergency kit in your car if you break down, it may be just as vital to be financially prepared for disaster.
For starters, CPA and financial advisor Susan Bruno suggests stashing some cash.
“Have a few hundred dollars in a safe place because you can’t assume the ATMs will work if there’s a tornado, a flood, whatever natural disaster we have, you can’t assume they’ll work or that there’ll be cash left in them,” Bruno says. “You may need it to buy groceries at a time that the connection simply doesn’t work.”
For the long term, she says you should also set a goal to have three to six months of housing expenses in the bank, to prepare for a worst-case scenario. Many parts of Iowa have seen the risk of wildfires rise during the months-long drought.
Bruno says if your house should catch on fire, you may have only seconds to evacuate.
“The first thing you’re going to want to do is grab the family photos,” Bruno says. “It’s not to grab a copy of your homeowner’s policy to see what you coverage was. We encourage people to e-vault all of their documents.”
That list of documents includes things like: wills and living wills, insurance papers for your home, life, car and health, titles for your vehicles, deeds for your home and property and other important documents about your checking, savings and retirement accounts.
Using the “cloud” to store an electronic version of these important papers, Bruno says, could be a life-saver. She recommends one free website: “It’s called Dropbox and it’s a well-known, secure, safe place to put your information and the only person who has access to that information is the person who set up the account, in Dropbox, set up the username and password.”
Bruno is co-founder of www.DivaCFO.com, a personal financial website designed to empower women when making important financial decisions.