Emergencies happen every day. But when the impossible happens, will you be ready? Having a financial emergency kit will make a big difference if the worst should ever happens.
The first step to preparing a financial emergency kit involves a well stocked emergency fund. You may only need enough to cover insurance deductibles or basic bills. But if income loss is involved, being ready for several months will be key. Ideally, it should be enough to cover 4 to 6 months of basic expenses.
Second, is to round-up all the important financial documents into a few safe places. Just having access to extra cash or contact information may be enough for the minor emergency. It’s still best to prepare for the worst, by securing all the important financial information, too.
Financial Emergency Kit Checklist
It’s important to keep all the information as up-to-date as possible. Doing an annual review of your financial emergency kit is a good idea. Just replace any old or outdated information when necessary.
- Social Security Cards
- Birth Certificates, Adoption Papers, Citizenship Papers, Green Cards
- IDs – state IDs, passports or military IDs
- Marriage License or Divorce Papers
- Insurance Policies – auto, life, disability, homeowner’s, renters, medical
- Health Insurance Card
- Military Records
- Legal Documents – power of attorney, will, estate or trust documents, living wills
- Property Deeds
- Auto Titles
- Mortgage Papers, Leases, Other Debt
- Medical Records, Prescriptions, Doctor/Hospital Information
- Important Phone Numbers – attorney, financial adviser, bank, insurance agent, credit card
- Important Account Numbers – bank, investment, retirement, credit card
- Household Inventory List – including antiques, collectibles, electronics, appraisals, etc.
- Petty Cash
Keep the original documents in a safe place and make copies of everything. Having video documentation of household items is a good idea, especially antiques and collectibles. It’s the best way to prove ownership for insurance purposes. Do an annual review of all the documents and beneficiary forms. Lastly, keep some extra cash in your financial emergency kit for when bank or ATM access isn’t possible.
Keep It All In A Safe Place
Keeping all the information in a safe place is just as important as putting the financial emergency kit together. There are several options available:
- Safety Deposit Box
- Fireproof Safe
- Waterproof Bags
- Online Data Storage
Using a combination of these is the best policy. Safe deposit boxes and safes are the most well-known choices. Keeping all the documents inside waterproof bags are a good idea as well. It only takes a couple of hours to scan everything and put it on a computer. Using a secure online backup service instead of a home computer is the best bet. That way you can get access to the information from anywhere.
It may take some time to put all the information together. But having copies of important documents in multiple safe places will only help. It’s a worthwhile weekend project that will pay dividends if a tragedy occurs.