How to Be Financially Prepared for Unexpected Events

hand with pen and handwritten budgeting figures

As a military spouse, you’ve learned to adapt to change. Still, the unexpected — whether a broken-down car, job loss, emergency travel or natural disaster — can cause stress and add pressure to your finances. Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to lessen the impact unexpected events can cause. With September being National Preparedness Month, it’s a great time to mentally and financially prepare your family for the unexpected. Here are five helpful tips.

Secure peace of mind with a rainy-day fund

The goal is to start small by saving any amount to have at the ready when unpredictable expenses occur, such as buying a new tire or replacing a broken window. Start by saving $1,000. As you get better at budgeting and finding deals to make your money go farther, celebrate the small win. Then increase your savings contribution over time and build to a fully funded emergency fund, which is an important piece of your overall financial security and mental health.

An emergency fund usually contains three-to-six months of living expenses. While it can’t prevent the unexpected event, an emergency fund can soften the blow. Try not to dip into this fund as it is a safety net for an unexpected illness or job loss. When you use your emergency fund, replenish it as soon as possible to build it back up to the level you need.

Protect your family’s future

Insurance can never repair the emotional damage a loss brings, but it can minimize your financial stress and help preserve your personal financial resources if the worst happens. By obtaining home, auto and life insurance, you can protect your military family and provide greater peace of mind. Review your insurance coverage on a regular basis and make sure it is aligned with your current needs.

Keep in mind that developing a robust emergency fund can help ease the burden of unexpected car repairs or home maintenance costs. That way you can keep your insurance costs lower when opting for higher deductibles. Traditional insurance can provide coverage for potential catastrophic events, while an emergency fund can handle smaller expenses. This method of “self-insurance” can also help you save money by avoiding extended warranties on smaller purchases altogether.

Build your own emergency kit

Preparing ahead for an emergency is essential to keeping your family safe. Consider how you would respond when a disaster strikes and make a plan before disaster strikes. The website Ready.gov is an excellent tool to help you get started. Know the risks at your current duty station regarding natural disasters or weather events and plan accordingly. Discuss your daily living needs with family members. Factor in food, water, medical needs, clothing and important items like legal or identification documents. If you have pets, think through your action plan for their care as well.

Then, create a list of supplies. You can buy a first-aid kit at your local retail store or build your own. Also, it’s a good idea to include a contact list that includes your installation support center, leadership communication channels, local emergency services and law enforcement. If your family needs to survive for several days without immediate assistance due to a flood or natural disaster, rest assured having an emergency kit and a list of resources can ease your mind during those difficult times.

Know your military relief society

Military relief society representatives are ready to help your military family, whether your hot-water heater breaks, you need a little extra help covering the essentials or you’re dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster. Army Emergency Relief Society, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance can assist eligible service members and spouses with rent, utilities, food, baby supplies, vehicle repair and emergency travel.

Get your estate in order

Planning your estate now can mean the difference between the smooth transition of your property after you die versus a big headache for your heirs. There are several basic documents you need, including:

  • Your will includes instructions on who will receive your property and appoints an executor with the legal authority to carry out your wishes.
  • A power of attorney gives the person you choose the authority to act on your behalf to do things such as pay your bills and manage your personal affairs.
  • A healthcare directive (living will) tells medical providers what kinds of care and procedures you want — or don’t want — if you aren’t able to state your preferences.

Learn more about these and other planning documents, such as a medical power of attorney (health care proxy) and a letter of instruction, that can benefit you and your loved ones.

Being prepared can ease stress and put your family in a stronger financial place when the unexpected happens.

 

MilSpouse Money Mission® is a Department of Defense resource that offers FREE personal financial education specifically geared toward spouses. There is a Money Ready guide for various stages of financial life, a MilLife Milestones section to help you through the big moments in your military journey, a blog, spouse videos, quizzes, calculators and more!

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hand with pen and handwritten budgeting figures

As a military spouse, you’ve learned to adapt to change. Still, the unexpected — whether a broken-down car, job loss, emergency travel or natural disaster — can cause stress and add pressure to your finances. Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to lessen the impact unexpected events can cause. With September being National Preparedness Month, it’s a great time to mentally and financially prepare your family for the unexpected. Here are five helpful tips.

Secure peace of mind with a rainy-day fund

The goal is to start small by saving any amount to have at the ready when unpredictable expenses occur, such as buying a new tire or replacing a broken window. Start by saving $1,000. As you get better at budgeting and finding deals to make your money go farther, celebrate the small win. Then increase your savings contribution over time and build to a fully funded emergency fund, which is an important piece of your overall financial security and mental health.

An emergency fund usually contains three-to-six months of living expenses. While it can’t prevent the unexpected event, an emergency fund can soften the blow. Try not to dip into this fund as it is a safety net for an unexpected illness or job loss. When you use your emergency fund, replenish it as soon as possible to build it back up to the level you need.

Protect your family’s future

Insurance can never repair the emotional damage a loss brings, but it can minimize your financial stress and help preserve your personal financial resources if the worst happens. By obtaining home, auto and life insurance, you can protect your military family and provide greater peace of mind. Review your insurance coverage on a regular basis and make sure it is aligned with your current needs.

Keep in mind that developing a robust emergency fund can help ease the burden of unexpected car repairs or home maintenance costs. That way you can keep your insurance costs lower when opting for higher deductibles. Traditional insurance can provide coverage for potential catastrophic events, while an emergency fund can handle smaller expenses. This method of “self-insurance” can also help you save money by avoiding extended warranties on smaller purchases altogether.

Build your own emergency kit

Preparing ahead for an emergency is essential to keeping your family safe. Consider how you would respond when a disaster strikes and make a plan before disaster strikes. The website Ready.gov is an excellent tool to help you get started. Know the risks at your current duty station regarding natural disasters or weather events and plan accordingly. Discuss your daily living needs with family members. Factor in food, water, medical needs, clothing and important items like legal or identification documents. If you have pets, think through your action plan for their care as well.

Then, create a list of supplies. You can buy a first-aid kit at your local retail store or build your own. Also, it’s a good idea to include a contact list that includes your installation support center, leadership communication channels, local emergency services and law enforcement. If your family needs to survive for several days without immediate assistance due to a flood or natural disaster, rest assured having an emergency kit and a list of resources can ease your mind during those difficult times.

Know your military relief society

Military relief society representatives are ready to help your military family, whether your hot-water heater breaks, you need a little extra help covering the essentials or you’re dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster. Army Emergency Relief Society, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance can assist eligible service members and spouses with rent, utilities, food, baby supplies, vehicle repair and emergency travel.

Get your estate in order

Planning your estate now can mean the difference between the smooth transition of your property after you die versus a big headache for your heirs. There are several basic documents you need, including:

  • Your will includes instructions on who will receive your property and appoints an executor with the legal authority to carry out your wishes.
  • A power of attorney gives the person you choose the authority to act on your behalf to do things such as pay your bills and manage your personal affairs.
  • A healthcare directive (living will) tells medical providers what kinds of care and procedures you want — or don’t want — if you aren’t able to state your preferences.

Learn more about these and other planning documents, such as a medical power of attorney (health care proxy) and a letter of instruction, that can benefit you and your loved ones.

Being prepared can ease stress and put your family in a stronger financial place when the unexpected happens.

 

MilSpouse Money Mission® is a Department of Defense resource that offers FREE personal financial education specifically geared toward spouses. There is a Money Ready guide for various stages of financial life, a MilLife Milestones section to help you through the big moments in your military journey, a blog, spouse videos, quizzes, calculators and more!

Team Member

We are team of financial professionals who understand military life because we have experienced military life. Our goal is to educate and empower military spouses to help them make smart money moves. We combine passion and expertise to ensure you get the most accurate and relevant information. Take comfort knowing Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, an Accredited Financial Counselor® and the Department of Defense Office of Financial Readiness have vetted the content on this site.
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