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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

How to Save for an Emergency

How To Save Money For A Disaster

I’ve had a few people for a while now ask me to cover financial preparedness in emergencies. I’ve always been hesitant to do it because I don’t have my finances in perfect shape. But as I researched the topic I realized that we don’t have to be perfect to be ready for an emergency. And also know, that I’m not judging anyone for their situation. Just like home security, everyone’s situation is unique and we need to prepare in a way that works for our family.

Financial emergency preparedness is having money on hand that will buy your way out of trouble.

Ed Calderon has said for a long time that money solves problems. In an emergency, we’re going to have problems that require payment. We may need to pay to get a tree off of our roof, buy gas, or get a hotel room. For the purposes of this show we’re not going to talk about world financial collapse, this is more for weather disasters, wildfires, and blackouts. Temporary things that we’re seeing happening every week across the country.

I’m going to talk about six things we all can do to be ready financially ready in a disaster.

Cash is King: Financial Preparedness

First, let’s have some cash on hand ready to go. In a temporary emergency, cash will still be king. I suggest you have in your home no less than a hundred bucks in small bills to pay for emergency needs. This way you’re not flashing 100-dollar bills to make yourself a target for a robbery.

You can negotiate your price and pay with close to exact change. So stock ones, fives, tens, and twenties. Put this money in your go bag so you don’t worry about accidentally spending it. Don’t go broke having cash on hand, maybe you set up a jar in the house and dump all of your small bills in it at the end of the week. You don’t have to produce all of this money at once, just get it on hand as quickly as your budget allows.

Mobile Money In A Disaster

Next, let's make use of mobile money. By this, I mean online banking with your institution, Paypal, or some other cash exchange app. This way you can continue to pay bills and move money around as you need.

No one is going to take a check in an emergency unless you're dealing with a business. Having digital access to pay to solve your problems will be essential assuming you have a data connection. That’s why I say cash is king, you don’t want to solely rely on digital payment but if you can use it and save some emergency cash, it’s a smart idea.

Start An Emergency Fund

And let’s give Dave Ramsey his due, we all need to have an emergency savings account - disaster or not. This can cover home repairs, car repairs, and any other unexpected expenses.

Dave recommends you start with a thousand dollars and go from there. I found a stat that said 6 in 10 Americans can’t cover an unexpected cost of a thousand dollars. Work on saving some money so that a disaster doesn’t crash your financial situation.

Updating Your Insurance For Disaster Preparedness

This next one I would have never considered for emergency financial preparedness, but it makes sense and that’s reviewing your insurance coverage. Be sure that your home, property, and cars are adequately covered in the event of a disaster. Call and schedule a review with your agent and ask what’s covered and what’s not.

As a general rule, never assume that you’re covered. Make your instance company prove it.

This year, I called an insurance broker that I trust and asked them to shop around my coverage to see if there was a better option. By doing this you might save some money month to month and get better protection.

Have Access To Important Documents In A Disaster

Many people will tell you to have copies of important documents on hand and in your go bag.

I’m on the fence about this one. While yes, I do see the importance of being able to prove your home ownership, living will, social security, or car ownership.

It makes me a little nervous putting that in a go bag. If that bag gets stolen or lost during an escape, that’s a lot of vital information no longer in your possession. My take is to upload digital copies to a secure online vault.

I reached out to Josh Summers of All Things Secured and asked him about a safe digital storage solution. He came back with an impressive app called 4Privacy. Now, I don’t have personal experience with it, but 4 Privacy lets you store and share important documentation and more. If you’re interested in researching it, search for 4Privacy in your app store.

Know Where Your Money Is Going

Take a look at your everyday expenses and know where your money is going. The better your finances are on a sunny day, the better off you’ll be when the rain comes.

Start by looking at your monthly expenses and see if there's any debt you can pay down, unsubscribe from unused memberships, and make the most of your food budget. Ask yourself if you really need four streaming services. Make a commitment to packing your lunch every day to save some money. And do your best to build up that emergency fund!

Taking a hard look at where your money is going will help you set priorities and focus on your family’s prosperity.

Alert Your Creditors

As we wrap up, it’s important to understand that when a disaster strikes our lives, the world keeps turning. While a tornado may prevent us from going to work, bills still have to be paid.

Your landlord will hopefully be understanding of your situation, but at some point, they are going to need their money, because they have to pay their own bills.

In a crisis, once you are safe and can see this will take a week or more to resolve you need to contact your creditors. That means you need to explain your situation to your auto loan company, mortgage company, mobile provider, and utility companies - just to name a few.

Many companies will work with you and negotiate a later payment, but you have to be upfront with them, first. The more warning you give them, the more likely they’ll be to help you out.

I wish I could tell you that you’ll never have to use these financial preparations, but with storms, wildfires, train derailments, and intentional blackouts happening seemingly every week, chances are you’ll be relying on this sooner than you think. So get ready today to be prepared for tomorrow.

Watch How to Prepare for the Next Emergency


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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