As you welcome the new year, you’re probably not thinking about the many ways that life could take a turn for the worse. But it could. An illness, a natural disaster, or an unexpected financial setback are only some of the events that could disrupt your life and your finances. Here are some proactive steps you should take — just in case.
Build a Cash Stash
Having an emergency fund can be a big help in a crisis. How much should you have saved? As a general rule, you should have enough to cover at least three and as many as nine months’ worth of expenses. Consider keeping your cash in a savings or money market account. While the interest these accounts offer may be relatively low, their liquidity is a big plus.
Peruse Your Policies
Insurance is another way to protect yourself. Make sure your car, home, medical, and life insurance policies provide sufficient coverage. Disability insurance that would provide income in the event you aren’t able to work is another safeguard worth considering. Review your coverage on a regular basis, especially if you’ve experienced a life-changing event, such as a marriage, a divorce, or the addition of a child.
Look into Loans
If you own a home, consider applying for a home equity line of credit as an extra safeguard. You don’t have to use the money unless you need it, so it may be smart to apply now while you are employed and healthy. If you do tap into your line of credit, the interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt is potentially tax deductible.
Be Prepared Professionally
It’s always a good idea to keep your résumé up to date — just in case. Establish and maintain a group of friends, associates, and key contacts who could help you in your search for a new job, should that be necessary.
Arrange Your Records
Gather all your important personal information together and store it in a safe place. Include a list of financial accounts (bank, savings, investment, and retirement) with access information (such as PINs and passwords). Safe deposit box keys, insurance policies, and contact information for your professional advisors should be in the same spot.