Financial preparedness is a big part of prepping that is often overlooked. We preppers think often about our food supply, water supply, heating supply, medical supply, etc., but sometimes leave out the importance of preparing financially for when the SHTF. Financial preparedness covers a variety of aspects depending on the particular SHTF scenario, so today I’m going to go over some basics of financial preparedness that can cover a variety of SHTF situations.
Financial Preparedness 101
The steps you need to take to cover financial preparedness depends on the individual SHTF situation. In some situations, such as storms or terrorist attacks, you might be best off hunkering down at home. As long as you’ve got your necessary supplies, you’re covered at home for the most part and financial preparedness might not be an issue, especially if you’ve got well-stocked supplies in all arenas.
These same situations, though, might put you into a place where you need to get to your “bug out” location. Do you have the financial resources to get there? Are the financial resources you need even usable? When Hurricane Sandy hit the east cost, hundreds of thousands of families were left without power or access to food or clean water due to a lack of preparedness. Grocery stores were without power too, leaving them unable to be open to service needy storm victims, which led to looting and rioting. Restaurants were out of the question: they didn’t have the power to cook the food or to ring up customer purchases.
Recommended Reading for Financial Preparedness: Second Chance: for Your Money, Your Life and Our World
It’s not always possible to go to the next block or the next town to get your food, water or money in the event of a disaster, and so it’s important to plan your survival in a way that assumes you won’t have nearby help.
Financial Preparations to Consider
In order to prepare yourself for nearly every type of SHTF scenario, whether that’s a problem within your own family (think: spouse trying to escape from abusive partner), within your own city (think: terrorist attack), within your region (think: storm or other scenario), or whatever the case may be, consider taking the following financial preparedness steps.
1. Don’t limit your bank accounts to just one bank, either online or brick and mortar. I suggest having accounts at at least two locations. Different types of disaster scenarios will affect all institutions different, and each institution will handle a scenario differently. Your online bank might be shut down immediately due to a smart bomb or other computer related scenario, or your online bank might have its own issues due to a local situation where the company resides. Your local bank or credit union might be more accessible in those situations.
The reverse could happen as well: your local bank/credit union could be inaccessible due to a local disaster, while an online banking branch could save your monetary tail.
2. Always have some cash stashed away. Always. In a safe place that very few people know about. If you ever need to bug out or buy supplies that are in short supply, it’s good to have cash on hand in case ATM cards aren’t working.
3. Always keep your gas tank at least half full. This might not seem like financial preparedness, but it absolutely is. Transportation can allow you to get to your bug out location or another area where things might be more calm, such as another city, state, or even another country if you’re near a border. Another city or state might allow you access to your money via an ATM or buy supplies at a store even if your state is in chaos.
4. Get out of debt. Getting out of debt is vital to any kind of preparedness. The last thing you want when people are going nuts due to a disaster is to be in bondage to a panicky lender. We don’t see much of this – yet – but financial chaos has in the past led to loans being called, etc. Get yourself out of a situation of being slave to a lender in order to maximize financial preparedness and freedom.
5. Consider owning currency from a nearby country. In the case of Americans, it might be wise to own some Canadian currency. If the U.S. dollar becomes worthless, it could prevent you from buying the things you need in the event of a SHTF scenario. Owning some currency from a nearby country could save your tail in the event of an emergency.
6. Keep your passport accessible. You might not be able to go to that nearby country to get/spend your money if you don’t have your passport. Keep all passports/birth certificates handy and easily accessible in order to enhance financial preparedness.
As you work on your preparedness and survival skill plans, don’t forget the very important step of preparing yourself financially. If you ever have to use your plans – and I hope you don’t – you’ll be glad you had them in place. 🙂
Great post and very good plans, even if I really hope to never be in the need to use them…
Thanks, Sabrina! I hope you never have to use them too! 🙂
Having lived in Florida and Texas, I’ve been through a few hurricanes. Places will open a couple of days after the storm, provided there is no damage. BUT their supplies will be limited AND you will have to pay cash. No exceptions. No one is taking checks for fear they are stolen. And the phone lines for processing credit and debit cards will be down. Stash some cash!
Kirsten, what a powerful testimony! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. People often don’t realize how valuable financial preparedness is in situations like these.
It is always good to be prepared. After superstorm Sandy, I now keep a little bit of cash at home just in case the power goes out and I can’t use my credit cards or have access to a bank.
Smart move, Aldo. I know you East-coasters really had a tough time during that one. It was hard for me even reading the stories. 🙁
I hadn’t really thought of keeping cash on hand, but I can see how this is a good idea. Thanks for the tips!
It’s one of my most important tips, Amy. Gotta be prepared just in case.
These are all great tips! Wes is always trying to get me to keep more cash at the house but I always object. I need to be more open when it comes to this!
Just make sure to have a great hiding place – that will probably make you feel better about having cash around, Michelle.
We try to keep a decent amount of cash on hand. A simple power outage can make having cards only a real pain, not even considering a huge disaster.
Exactly, Adam! You guys are on the right track.
Whew! It looks like we have a lot of work to do. These are all great suggestions that I needed to hear and we need to act on. Thank you!
Glad you liked it, Jayleen! Yes, put the plans in place – good stuff!
I always keep some cash around…I find it odd when people literally have NO CASH and solely rely on credit. I almost always use credit to get points but keep cash on me and at home, though not a large amount. Years back there was a blackout and obviously no stores took credit cards and the ATMs didn’t work…cash was king. And gas, maybe I’m paranoid but I like to keep my tank half full (though it’s harder now that I have a long commute and fill up every 4 days as it is). I remember before Hurricane Sandy I filled up just in case…which was good because many gas stations were shut down and the ones that were open, lines were hours long. Owning foreign currency is a little extreme to me since if the USD becomes worthless…I’d think the Canadian currency wouldn’t be much help…might be better off with gold bars, a stockpile of food and guns!
It’s funny about the gas tank thing: I often find myself panicking a bit now if I get below half a tank. 🙂 Yeah, guns and gold are good too – but I like the idea of owning a bit of Canadian cash too, just in case. 🙂
The half full gas tank is SO true!! After Sandy, we had a gas shortage around here and I was thankful that we at least had gas in our cars to drive the 20+ miles to not only find a station with gas but also to wait in the gas line once we got there.
Yes, Shannon!!! Or to bug out if you need to get to a safer location. That’s always my main fear, you know? If one has to quickly leave their area, they’re certainly not going to want to stop and fill up.
Great post and so important. We don’t think about a major situation like this only when it too late. I never thought of number 5 to be honest with you, but will look into it. Thanks again.
Yay! Glad you are looking into it Joyce. Always good to be prepared for the “just in case” scenario.
I always told my younger sister that she should have cash always. There was an instance that I didn’t have any cash and I forgot to bring my atm card!
Smart advice, Clarisse! It pays to carry cash.
Super Storm Sandy was an eye opener for a lot of people. It showed them how unprepared they were. So always good to have a “What if” plan for all types of scenarios, because you just never know.
Agreed, Brian! We can’t just assume it will never happen to us.
I always am befuddled when during a big winter storm, the news crews go into neighborhoods and interview people in the doorway of their home, and the people are complaining they have no food in the house. These storms usually only last a day or so and they don’t have enough food to get through one whole day?! Yikes. At any rate, we do have a cash stash, probably too much really, and always keep plenty of gas in vehicles. The ultimate preparation we’ve done is to have a whole house generator which ties into the natural gas lines. Unless the natural gas delivery is disrupted, we should be in pretty good shape.
LOL, I hear you, Kathy! They seem so stunned that the storm actually arrived, in spite of weather predictions, and then are at a loss as to what they’re going to do. I think a lot about you guys and your generator. We’re researching them now. Out in the country, we’ve got our propane supply, which is powered by electricity. We need to find a plan for if the electricity goes out.
Huh, I’ve never considered myself much of a prepper. But we do all of these except #5.
You’re preppier than you think. 😉
I actually do most of these things, except the foreign currency and the debt part. I’m working hard at the last one.
Keep up the good work, Janet – you can do it. 🙂
I know we need to keep cash on hand, but it’s just so hard for me to do. I want that cash in a bank. Especially while we’re saving up for some big expenses this year.
Still, it’s really the best way to go.
We probably should also keep the tank from getting low, now that you mention it.
Abigail, yes, you should. Those seemingly little things like a full gas tank and a few hundred dollars in cash can be lifesavers in the event of a SHTF situation. So glad you are thinking about these things, dear one.
All great suggestions which I follow myself, excluding ‘owning currency from a nearby country.’ I don’t count the two Canadian pennies I found recently when rolling some coins 🙂
LOL, funny. 🙂 It’s interesting, isn’t it? We used to all, back in the day, count Canadian money as worthless, but the times they are a changin’.
Having no debt and saving are what I prioritize, Laurie. Thanks for reminding me of keeping my passport accessible. This is what I have overlooked. LOL
I hear you, Jayson. Those are two biggies that we are prioritizing ourselves. To me, dumping debt is huge in terms of being financially prepared.
All it takes is a summer thunderstorm to knock out power for an hour or so. Do you really want to be driving on fumes in a downpour? I always have at least half a tank of gas, some tunafish in the pantry, and a bit of cash on hand. It’s not even about money–just planning for life’s inconveniences.
So true, Lisa!!! We experienced that a couple of years ago in the still-cold spring weather. With each passing year, I have a better appreciation for the value in being prepared.
Super tips, Laurie! I need to get on board. Now that we’re settled in, I’m ready to start stockpiling. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂
Yay! Glad to hear that, Kay. 🙂
I’ve got some of these down, I have more than one bank, but I need to start hoarding a little cash to keep on hand. I also need to keep paying off debt as quickly as possible, especially the high interest stuff.
I hear you there, Kayla. The more we work toward debt freedom, the more secure/prepared we will be – both of us!
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