Out with the old and in with new habits! This year make a plan to put your finances on the right footing. We’ve listed some actions you can take for the first few months of the year to help you get started.
January: Fill out the EFFAK
FEMA’s Emergency First Aid Kit (EFFAK) offers guidance on organizing and securing important documents. It also provides advice on managing finances, offers insights on credit scores, and describes what to expect should a disaster strike your community. All of this can help you prepare for both big incidents and minor emergencies.
Fillable forms and checklists allow you to organize your documents and contacts in PDF form. The EFFAK is available in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish, and large print versions. Free copies of the EFFAK can also be ordered online.
February: Start or review your budget
A budget maps out the costs and bills you have each month, such as rent, utilities, food, and car payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has tools that can help you get started to track income and spending. There’s also a budget worksheet that can be filled out as a PDF or printed out.
As you look at the money you spend, think about ways you might be able to put some of your income toward savings. Building your savings a little at a time can make it easier to pay for unexpected expenses, whether your refrigerator suddenly dies or you’re furloughed from a job. FEMA will participate in America Saves Week next month, from February 22-26. The event will offer day-by-day advice on such topics as automatic savings, saving for retirement, and reducing debt. Look for more on America Saves Week in the February newsletter!
March: Ensure you have the right insurance
Another facet of financial resilience is protecting what you own. Take a look at your homeowners or renters insurance policies to make sure they cover everything you need. It’s also a good idea to get quotes from other insurers periodically to see if you’re getting the best rate, as it can vary between insurance companies. To learn more, check out “Document and Insure Your Property” on Ready.gov/be-informed.
March means spring rains and melting snow may be on the way. That’s why it’s also a good month to consider flood insurance, which isn’t covered by most homeowners or renter’s insurance policies. Flood insurance covers your home and the things inside it. With flood insurance, you're able to recover faster and more fully. To learn more, visit FEMA’s FloodSmart website.
April: Focus on Financial Capability
Continue on the path to financial resilience with National Financial Capability Month. During April, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and FEMA encourage people to improve their financial futures and to be prepared if disaster strikes. Each week will feature tools and resources to help you take action throughout the rest of 2021.
Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov
This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here.