The immediate weeks and months following a disaster can be filled with hardships and uncertainty.
But that does not mean hope is lost. With careful planning and taking a realistic look at your finances, you can survive even through the toughest times.
Healing takes time; assess your situation first
Although you may be anxious to start rebuilding and replacing what was lost, it’s crucial that you take some time to reflect and absorb what’s happened before taking any important actions. Getting caught up in the moment can lead to rash decisions, which may cause further difficulties to arise.
Create a budget
After you’ve gotten a better grasp of the situation, the first step towards recovery is assessing your financial situation and preparing a plan to manage your finances. Knowing the types of cash inflows (income) and necessary outflows (expenses), as well as keeping on top of any outstanding debt, will be fundamental to creating a budget to help you through your time of need. Having a realistic perspective on your finances will help you with making educated decisions with your money, as well as identify areas where you can perhaps cut back to free up additional funds.
Borrowing is not a bad thing
If after assessing your financial situation you determine you still require extra funds, your credit union or bank may be able to offer additional assistance. If available, inquire about a personal emergency relief loan or other types of personal loan products designed to help those in severe financial need. Alternatively, you may also want to consider utilizing a credit card to help you cover some of your more immediate costs. Just remember, however, that all debt plus any accrued interest will need to be paid back in a timely manner.
Contact your insurance agent and file a claim quickly
Insurance claims take time. The sooner you can get started, the sooner your claim can be processed. But just as important as when, so too does the thoroughness of your claim impact its processing. An accurate estimate of your losses is necessary to receive the appropriate level of insurance assistance. To better facilitate things, draft out a list of damaged or lost items and accompany it with applicable receipts and photos if available. Documentation of those items and their respective values will help to support your claim. You should also keep additional receipts from any disaster-rated expenses you incur such as temporary housing, repairs, and supplies.
Take care of important documents
In the event that any of your important personal (i.e. driver’s license, Social Security card, etc.) or financial (account statement, bills, etc.) documents become lost, obtain copies as soon as possible. It’s also imperative that you monitor your accounts for any suspicious or fraudulent activity.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Trying to handle everything yourself can quickly become overwhelming. Going through an emergency is traumatic enough. That’s why when things start to become too much to handle it’s critical that you reach out for help. Whether it’s speaking to someone at your financial institution, soliciting the services of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or financial advisor to help you with your financial planning, or even contacting relief organizations such as the American Red Cross to help you get back on your feet, you don’t have to walk along the road to recovery alone.