I have a good friend who, in an effort to be prepared, bought buckets of rice. Years later, she found out many of her family members can’t eat rice. Now she has buckets of rice that she can’t use. Unless…
It’s hard to prepare, especially on a budget. And, let’s face it, there’s a decent chance you’ll never need all these preparations. So why do it?
If you’re prepared for an emergency, you’ll be ready in the off chance there is one.
“I always hear people say, ‘I get all this [emergency kit] together and never need it. Well, count yourself [lucky] that you never need it. Sometimes things happen and so many people don’t have it,” said Judy Harvey, a Salt Lake City woman with several years’ training in emergency management.
She keeps a 72-hour emergency kit at her desk and another in her front closet at home. She also keeps blankets and a first aid kit in her car. Her emergency training taught her that, logistically, it’s impossible for outside help to arrive sooner than three days.
If you’re prepared, you’ll be ready to deal with life’s changes, large and small.
“Sending kids to college, making a home purchase, having a baby, even something like a divorce. Are you financially prepared?” asked Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah. “Are you prepared for job loss? Do you have an emergency savings? Are you financially prepared for retirement? That’s more likely to happen than [a stock market collapse].”
Many financial advisors recommend saving at least 20 percent of earnings. Part should go into retirement, part into short-term savings and part into an emergency fund, House said.
The short-term savings fund is for future expenses like holidays or a down payment. An emergency fund helps when things come up like car repairs or doctor bills, so you don’t have to use high-interest debt like credit cards or short-term loans
Preparation helps even with small changes. When I go shopping, I try to use cash, then I put change into an emergency stash. Yesterday, a bit of that stash served as tooth fairy money.
If you’re prepared, you can save money on major purchases and improve your everyday financial situation.
Financial planners teach that a good credit score allows you to buy large-ticket items at a lower interest rate. In addition, House said more than 60 percent of prospective employers check credit scores, so a good score can mean the difference between getting and missing out on a job.
It takes preparation to improve a credit score: remembering to pay all bills on schedule, keeping oldest credit cards and paying off other debt, and painstakingly searching credit reports for inevitable mistakes.
If you’re prepared with insurance you’ll save money in case of damage.
I asked family and friends how they prepared for emergencies. Every one said they bought renter’s insurance.
“We have renter’s insurance to protect our belongings in case of anything bad happening to the building we are in,” said Savannah Robertson, of Orem, Utah. “There are too many things that could go wrong in your house or car to not be prepared.”
Shelly Robertson, from American Fork, Utah, said her family doesn’t have a lot of income. Yet they pay slightly higher insurance premiums every month so they’ll have a lower deductible in case of damage to their home or vehicles.
“You pay more, but if you don’t have cash in hand to cover (emergency repairs), you will suck up the loss,” she said. “We have a $500 car and rental deductible, because we quite frankly cannot come up with more than $500.”
Your preparation helps first responders.
If a family member has special needs or uses special medical equipment, ready.gov recommends telling first responders and utility companies before an emergency.
The advantage is simple: the more information first responders have, the better, said Trooper Josh Lewis from the Colorado State Patrol.
He recalled an instance when an autistic boy from his church congregation wandered away from home, which caused an hours-long search. Fortunately, the boy wore a medical alert bracelet.
“Should law enforcement come across him and see… the medical alert bracelet, we would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.
If you’re prepared, you can help others.
My friend who bought buckets of rice is now giving them away. Even though she didn’t use it herself, it’s reasonable to suppose that someone may use it in the future – maybe even someone who couldn’t have bought it on their own. It’s good she was prepared.
What are some other benefits of prepping that you've noticed in your life? Let us know in the comments!