emergency http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1315/all en-US 13 Essentials Every Emergency Bag Should Have http://www.wisebread.com/13-essentials-every-emergency-bag-should-have <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-essentials-every-emergency-bag-should-have" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emergency_preparedness_checklist_and_natural_disaster_supplies.jpg" alt="Emergency preparedness checklist and natural disaster supplies" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You hear a knock on the door, or an announcement on the TV or radio &mdash; you need to get out, and get out now! We rarely consider the possibility of an evacuation, but for the people recently affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, it was a harsh reality. People were given a short window to grab what they could and find a safe place to wait it out. What would you take? Do you have a list, or a pre-packed bag for each member of the family? You should. Here's what you will need.</p> <h2>1. The bag itself</h2> <p>Functionality is key here. What you need is something that is heavy-duty, waterproof, large, and lightweight enough not to be a burden. You are going to have to fill this with supplies that will keep you alive for days, or even weeks, and the last thing you need is something flimsy and unreliable. Look for bags with waterproof liners, plenty of pockets and storage compartments, and multiple ways to carry it. Ideally, it has handles, padded shoulder straps, and a large adjustable strap.</p> <p>Look in specialist camping and survival stores, and also check out army surplus stores; if it's good enough for the Marines, it should do well. Some bags also come with built-in chargers, solar panels, and other tech hookups. Those are optional, but worth considering.</p> <h2>2. Nonperishable food (and access to clean water)</h2> <p>You want to concentrate on survival, not comfort. <a href="http://amzn.to/2yJ77Ua" target="_blank">MREs</a> (Meals Ready to Eat) are a good option, as well as protein bars, packets of oatmeal, freeze-dried products, nuts and dried fruits, and a few canned goods. You want to keep the weight down as much as possible, and cans tend to be on the heavy side. You can also buy an <a href="http://amzn.to/2y7WpJG" target="_blank">emergency food kit</a> and keep that next to your go bag. These can be purchased on Amazon, as well as specialist &quot;prepper&quot; sites, and cost anywhere from $30 to several hundred dollars. If you're watching your budget, these <a href="http://amzn.to/2yFV75T" target="_blank">Datrex 2400 Emergency Food Bars</a> won't be a culinary treat, but they will keep you filled with calories for 72 hours and have a five-year shelf life.</p> <p>For hydration, it's not always practical to pack your go bag with bottled water, so invest in a <a href="http://amzn.to/2wU0sJA" target="_blank">Lifestraw</a>, or some <a href="http://amzn.to/2y92W7d" target="_blank">water purification tablets</a>. These can be kept safe in the go bag, and ready to go when you need to leave quickly.</p> <h2>3. Cold hard cash</h2> <p>Make no mistake, you're going to need money at some point during your evacuation. Even with a well-maintained go bag filled with food and supplies, you'll have to stock up on anything that runs out quickly, or items you just didn't have time to pack. Chances are, if the blackout is in you area, the ATMs will be affected. And even if they do work, they could be out of bounds due to flooding, extreme weather, or barricades. Any stores that are operational won't be operating at full strength, and their POS (Point Of Sale) system will most likely be down. When blackouts happen, everything jumps back several decades in time, and that means paper money and coins will be king.</p> <p>Keep several hundred dollars in a waterproof pouch inside your go bag, in different denominations. Don't stock $100 bills. Instead, pack $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s. Another pocket filled with loose change is also a good idea.</p> <h2>4. Several changes of clothing</h2> <p>You'll be gone from the house for at least a few days, but it could be weeks. However, whenever any of us pack a bag, we tend to overestimate what we need, and take way too much with us. You do not want to weigh down your go bag, so be very judicious. Clean underwear and socks are light and take up little space, so grab at least a one-week supply of those. Then, consider the conditions. A lightweight jacket is usually a good idea, as well as a few T-shirts, a pair of jogging pants, and a small plastic raincoat that can be folded into a small pouch. Pack everything inside waterproof bags. Don't worry about the condition of the clothing either. Stains, slight tears, wrinkles &mdash; they're all fine. You're out for survival, not dinner and a movie, so choose based on practicality.</p> <h2>5. A first aid kit and your prescription medications</h2> <p>It doesn't have to be a big kit, but you will need something for minor cuts and scrapes, plus the usual pain relievers, ointments, lotions, tools, and allergy meds. Most importantly, you need to grab the prescription medications you rely upon daily. You do not want to run out of the house only to remember you have left behind the meds you need to stay fit and healthy. There won't be the time or opportunity to see a doctor immediately, and the pharmacies in the area could be out of power too. So, attach a note to your go bag reminding you to grab your meds. They could literally be the difference between life and death. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-first-aid-kits?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best First Aid Kits</a>)</p> <h2>6. Mylar blankets</h2> <p>Also known as space blankets, <a href="http://amzn.to/2xB8JPx" target="_blank">Mylar blankets</a> were developed by NASA in 1964 for the U.S. space program. The Mylar blanket keeps in the heat or reflects the heat, depending on the situation you're in, is very thin, and can shelter you from the wind. They have since been used to cover athletes after finishing marathons, and have also found their way into backpacks of extreme sports competitors. They are cheap, small, and reliable.</p> <h2>7. Hygiene and sanitation products</h2> <p>It may be some time until you get to take a hot shower or bath, so be prepared to clean yourself in the most efficient way possible. Every go bag should contain <a href="http://amzn.to/2xLRZao" target="_blank">hand sanitizer</a>, mouthwash, toothpaste, a toothbrush, toilet paper, soap, a washcloth, and <a href="http://amzn.to/2y8uYQ4" target="_blank">baby wipes</a>. Ladies should also pack feminine hygiene products, as well. Don't worry about after shaves, perfumes, deodorants, cosmetics, and even conditioners. You are only interested in staying clean and germ-free for the duration of your time away from home.</p> <h2>8. A multitool</h2> <p>The go-to multitool in the past was a <a href="http://amzn.to/2xC24F3" target="_blank">Swiss Army Knife</a>, and it's still a great tool to have in your go bag. It has at least six handy tools in one compact case, and if it is built by Victorinox, it will last you a lifetime. However, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2wWSkmy" target="_blank">Leatherman multitool</a> has increased in popularity over the years due to the inclusion of the pliers case design, and is also an excellent option. This model has 14 tools and is a comparable price to the Victorinox. It is also built to last a lifetime. Either of these will be invaluable when you are away from home.</p> <h2>9. Portable power source</h2> <p>You're going to bring your cellphone with you, and it's probably the first thing you'll grab. But it will be useless in a few hours without a power source. You can opt for power banks, which can be charged and ready to go. But, they too will drain quickly, and before you know it, you have two useless bricks in your bag. Instead, opt for power that can be replenished. <a href="http://amzn.to/2wX1VtS" target="_blank">Dynamo power banks</a> require manual winding to charge your phone. You can also find models that include a solar charging options, to give your hand a break and let the sun do the work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-solar-power-banks?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Solar Power Banks</a>)</p> <h2>10. Identification</h2> <p>Hopefully, you will grab your wallet or purse as you are running for the door. But if there just isn't time, or it's in a place that cannot be easily accessed, what are you going to do about official identification? During evacuations, rescue and government workers may need to know who you are, and just telling them your name may not be good enough. A passport is a good way to identify yourself. If you keep it next to your go bag, you can put it in there when you take the bag, and you will always know where it is when you need to take a trip. An official state ID is also a good option.</p> <h2>11. Fire starters</h2> <p>You don't want to discover how hard it is to start a fire after you have been evacuated. It's tough. Just watch an episode of <em>Man Vs. Wild</em> or <em>Survivorman</em>. A fire will provide warmth for your body, and heat to cook with, so keep something in your bag to help you out. A flint and stone is the most hardy and long-lasting, but it can take some practice to get used to. <a href="http://amzn.to/2wWZtmQ" target="_blank">Disposable lighters</a> and <a href="http://amzn.to/2yHrPnq" target="_blank">waterproof matches</a> are also a good bet.</p> <h2>12. Flashlights</h2> <p>Finally, you should keep a <a href="http://amzn.to/2wWVYwZ" target="_blank">hand-crank flashlight</a> or two in your go bag. This is a better option than a battery powered flashlight, especially if you forget about it and the batteries are dead when you do have to evacuate. You could find yourself way out of your element in an evacuation, and having reliable sources of light in your go bag will prove invaluable. If you want to go for an all-in-one model, there are options available that include radios, power banks, and hazard lights. But as long as you can use it to see where you're going, it will work.</p> <h2>13. A tent</h2> <p>If you live in an area that does not have a lot of options for accommodation, you should consider putting a small two or <a href="http://amzn.to/2fyAUKE" target="_blank">three-person tent</a> in your go bag. They are very small and lightweight, and can be assembled in less than five minutes. If it's the choice between carrying a heavier bag, or sleeping in a field in the rain, take the first option.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F13-essentials-every-emergency-bag-should-have&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F13%2520Essentials%2520Every%2520Emergency%2520Bag%2520Should%2520Have.jpg&amp;description=13%20Essentials%20Every%20Emergency%20Bag%20Should%20Have"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/13%20Essentials%20Every%20Emergency%20Bag%20Should%20Have.jpg" alt="13 Essentials Every Emergency Bag Should Have" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-essentials-every-emergency-bag-should-have">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-electrical-blackout-essentials-every-home-needs">8 Electrical Blackout Essentials Every Home Needs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-safest-cities-in-america-from-natural-disasters">10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-robotic-mops">The 5 Best Robotic Mops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-kitchen-dish-towels">The 5 Best Kitchen Dish Towels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-thermoses">The 5 Best Thermoses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping blackout emergency emergency bag emergency supplies evacuation go bag hurricane supplies natural disasters storm Fri, 29 Sep 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 2028011 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Smartphone Apps That Can Help You in an Emergency http://www.wisebread.com/10-smartphone-apps-that-can-help-you-in-an-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smartphone-apps-that-can-help-you-in-an-emergency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/afro_american_woman_calling_911.jpg" alt="Afro American woman calling 911" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say there's an app for everything, but the best ones are the apps that'll get you out of a bind when emergency strikes. From video doctors that can diagnose a condition over the phone, to help finding a bathroom when you've <em>really</em> gotta go, these 10 apps have your back in your time of need. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-8-key-areas-of-your-life-with-these-17-smart-apps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps</a>)</p> <h2>1. First Opinion</h2> <p>If you have a medical condition that needs an expert opinion but doesn't necessarily warrant a visit to your primary care physician or a trip to the hospital, <a href="https://firstopinionapp.com/" target="_blank">First Opinion</a> can help. This chat app allows you to talk to a doctor and send photos for free &mdash; with no insurance required. In some states, an extended plan is available for $39/month that provides prescriptions, labs, diagnoses, and doctor's notes.</p> <p>&quot;There have been many times over my three years using the app that it has come in clutch, but none more so than after I developed acid reflux and started having chest pain,&quot; said one user. &quot;I was able to message my doctor within minutes and get triage that helped me make decisions about whether the pain required the ER, urgent care, or just some R&amp;R. There have been several occasions where this app has saved me money and guided me towards healthier options.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Keeper Security</h2> <p>This password manager app can ease the stress of your incapacitation or death by allowing a trusted friend and/or family member access to your important digital information &mdash; should it be required &mdash; by providing them the passwords to your important accounts. With <a href="https://keepersecurity.com/" target="_blank">Keeper Security</a>'s Emergency Access feature, you can add or remove anyone at any time and adjust the waiting period for access to the vault (you'll probably want to make sure you're not coming back any time soon before you let someone rummage through your online life; just my humble opinion), all while maintaining the highest level of privacy and encryption.</p> <h2>3. LifeSite Vault</h2> <p>You'll have all your important documents at your fingertips &mdash; insurance policies, health information, and more &mdash; via the <a href="http://www.lifesite.co/" target="_blank">LifeSite Vault app</a>, which features categorization, collaboration, and document scanning functionality. Just point and shoot to capture, organize, store, and share your important info. Like Keeper Security, users can grant access to people they trust in case they need to access information on your behalf.</p> <p>LifeSite founder and CEO put it to practice when his own dad suffered a heart attack and the hospital needed medical information in the ER. He was able to access it immediately, which saved a ton of time &mdash; and his father's life.</p> <h2>4. Visual 911+</h2> <p>Juan Cienfuegos invented <a href="http://www.triagelights.com/visual-911/" target="_blank">Visual 911+</a> after witnessing Katrina survivors signaling for help from their rooftops and wondering how anyone would see them at night.</p> <p>At its most basic, this free app serves as a flashing-light device that is not dependent on network connectivity or power from the grid. If power/networks are up, however, it will transmit an email to your &quot;lifelines&quot; &mdash; people you designate to alert when you're in peril &mdash; letting them know you are in alert status. The email includes a link to Google Maps showing your general GPS location along with instructions to hone in on you by searching for the visual signal coming from your phone. Visual 911+ features several different color-coded emergency modes for various situations, like red for children, green for people with special needs, blue for adults, yellow for pets, and white for general help.</p> <h2>5. OrthoNOW</h2> <p>Got a bum foot that renders you unable to drive yourself to the orthopedist? <a href="https://www.orthonowcare.com/free-new-orthonow-mobile-app/" target="_blank">OrthoNOW</a>, the nation's only orthopedic urgent care franchise, launched an update to its free mobile app last year which included a partnership with Uber, so patients who couldn't drive themselves to the care centers could order a ride. The feature works as an added value to the original On My Way NOW feature that lets patients notify the center that they are en route, the reason for their visit, and expected arrival time. Patients can also send photos of their injury before arrival, so doctors at the center will be prepared when they get there. They currently have centers in Florida and Georgia and soon will be expanding to new states.</p> <h2>6. Manything</h2> <p>If you can't afford an expensive home security system, <a href="https://manything.com/" target="_blank">Manything</a> might solve your problem. This app turns any old recycled smartphone with Wi-Fi capabilities and a working camera into a security device with motion detectors that will alert you via text if anything is amiss at your residence. The basic plan is free, and Cloud Recording plans start at $2.99 for two days, perfect for when you leave town for a weekend. Monthly plans are $5.99 for one camera, and $9.99 for two cameras.</p> <h2>7. Avenza Maps</h2> <p>Have you heard those stories about travelers taking wrong turns in their vehicles in national parks or the desert and getting lost for days on end before being rescued? <a href="http://www.avenza.com/pdf-maps" target="_blank">Avenza Maps</a> doesn't want that to happen to you. The app uploads high-quality maps to your phone, which rely on your phone's GPS signal instead of data or Wi-Fi, so you can access them wherever you are, regardless of signal strength. Some maps are free, while others are typically less than $5, and they're specialized for hiking, recreation, national parks, tourists, transit, and more. Once the map is on your phone, you can drop place markers, record GPS tracks, and find specific coordinates &mdash; like the nearest ranger station or hospital in an emergency.</p> <h2>8. iPee Address</h2> <p>We've all been there before: having to pee so bad it hurts, when there's no public restroom in sight. Instead of getting turned down by every store in the vicinity whose owners have zero compassion for much-needed bathroom breaks, check out the cleverly named <a href="https://www.ipeeaddress.com/" target="_blank">iPee Address</a>. For a 99-cent download fee, the app will locate the nearest available restrooms &mdash; virtually anywhere you are in the world &mdash; so you can relieve yourself in a toilet instead of the sidewalk.</p> <h2>9. Shortcut</h2> <p>&quot;Emergency&quot; is a relative concept, and I often have haircut emergencies. Like, I need to get one <em>now</em>. If you drive by a Great Clips and it's closed hours before you're serving as best man in a wedding, never fear. The <a href="https://www.getshortcut.co/" target="_blank">Shortcut</a> on-demand haircut app connects you with a barber with the flick of a finger so you can get a shape-up lickety-split.</p> <h2>10. EFynch.com</h2> <p>Many home improvement and handyman projects can wait until you identify the right contractor for the job at the right price. Sometimes, however, you need help in a jif &mdash; like when you need a hornet's nest removed or help boarding windows before a big storm.</p> <p>&quot;We have a unique system that not only seeks to find someone that is already working in your neighborhood to provide fast and efficient service, but we have developed a way to contact several available guys and obtain competitive pricing so the homeowner can hire someone who is 'happy to have the work' instead of 'eager to charge an emergency fee,'&quot; says <a href="https://www.efynch.com" target="_blank">Efynch.com</a> founder Teris Pantazes.</p> <p>The app launched in October 2016 and has completed nearly 1,000 projects to date.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-smartphone-apps-that-can-help-you-in-an-emergency&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Smartphone%2520Apps%2520That%2520Can%2520Help%2520You%2520in%2520an%2520Emergency.jpg&amp;description=10%20Smartphone%20Apps%20That%20Can%20Help%20You%20in%20an%20Emergency"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Smartphone%20Apps%20That%20Can%20Help%20You%20in%20an%20Emergency.jpg" alt="10 Smartphone Apps That Can Help You in an Emergency" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smartphone-apps-that-can-help-you-in-an-emergency">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-8-key-areas-of-your-life-with-these-17-smart-apps">Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-dumb-places-you-re-leaving-your-money">6 Dumb Places You’re Leaving Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-apps-that-pay-you-to-workout">6 Apps That Pay You to Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-parking-apps-for-your-city">The 11 Best Parking Apps for Your City</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology 911 apps emergency get help helpful apps smartphone apps Wed, 23 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 2007636 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Do You Have Emergency Savings? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-have-emergency-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-do-you-have-emergency-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/coin_jar_emergency_498723320_0.jpg" alt="Creating emergency savings" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to SweeperMom, Davalyn, and Elena for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>It's hard to budget for an unexpected expense &mdash; but that's what an emergency fund is for. It's a financial buffer for sudden job loss, a broken down car, a leaky roof, and other unfortunate events that life throws your way.</p> <p><strong>Do you have emergency savings?</strong> How much money do you need in your emergency fund in order to feel secure? Have you ever had to dip into her emergency savings? What was the emergency?</p> <p>Tell us whether you have emergency savings and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win:</p> <ul> <li>Follow us on Twitter</li> <li>Tweet about our giveaway for an entry.</li> <li>Visit our Facebook page for an entry.</li> </ul> <p>Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards:</p> <p><a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa312/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="79857dfa312" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_9y73zahm">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, August 14th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 14th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook or Twitter.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and U.S. resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us whether you have emergency savings and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-have-emergency-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">Figuring the Size of Your Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-6-months-of-living-expenses-0">3-6 months of living expenses?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pessimism-pays-why-expecting-the-worst-can-save-you-money">Pessimism Pays - Why Expecting the Worst Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Ask the Readers emergency Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1996383 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Life Hacks You Should Master by Age 30 http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_cooking_000057441244.jpg" alt="Woman learning to cook by age 30" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you a 20-something trying your best to transition fully into adulthood? We've all been there. It's time to start developing those go-to skills that will make adult life much easier. Get started on these 10 life hacks you should master by age 30.</p> <h2>1. Changing a Flat Tire</h2> <p>As with most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-the-5-most-common-emergency-situations">unexpected emergency situations</a>, you should be prepared for the worst. Sure, AAA is great, but what if you're in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of rush hour? A flat tire is relatively easy to fix, so learn <a href="http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/changing-tire.php">how to change a tire, now</a>. (You can practice in your driveway.)</p> <h2>2. Repairing Your Pipes</h2> <p>Leaky pipes and clogged drains are the kinds of nuisances that we live with until something worse happens &mdash; and that shouldn't be the case. Look like a boss with your wrench or drain snake and <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/plumbing/how-to-fix-pipes1.htm">fix leaky pipes</a> without a plumber. Your roommates or your significant other will thank you.</p> <h2>3. Assembling an Emergency Kit</h2> <p>Everyone should have an <a href="http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit">emergency kit</a> for their home, car, and even for their work desk. Buy three nylon duffel bags, then head to the hardware store and fill them with the essentials. In addition, have a &quot;top five&quot; of close people you'd call for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-should-have-in-your-personal-emergency-kit">help in an emergency</a>.</p> <h2>4. Mixing a Signature Cocktail</h2> <p>Having a <a href="http://www.popsugar.com/food/What-Your-Signature-Drink-35633409">go-to cocktail</a> that you can make for yourself is a classy life hack that will make you a better host. In the process, you'll likely want to learn more drinks. For bonus points, learn to make your signature drink in <a href="http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/12/cocktail-101-how-to-make-cocktails-for-a-crowd-big-batches-martinis-margaritas-manhattans.html">large cocktail batches</a> for parties.</p> <h2>5. Cooking at Least One Dish</h2> <p>Learn how to cook something from scratch! It's about time. It's always impressive to others and delicious for everyone. Pick a dish that requires a mix of multiple ingredients at different times. Spaghetti doesn't count, but spaghetti carbonara does. Start here with some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-restaurant-dishes-you-can-make-at-home">great restaurant dishes</a> you can make at home.</p> <h2>6. Wrapping a Present</h2> <p>How often have you struggled to wrap a gift last minute only to reuse an old gift bag instead? Learn how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-clever-and-attractive-ways-to-save-on-gift-wrapping-paper">wrap presents creatively</a> with all kinds of materials. You may find that your recipients will enjoy your gifts even more because they love how beautiful they look before even opening them.</p> <h2>7. Calculating Tips</h2> <p>It's not difficult to calculate a tip in your head. Find it hard to solve for 20% right away? Simply take 10% of the total (move the decimal once to the left), and double that. At group meals in which the restaurant doesn't add gratuity, do the same thing, then divide that by the number of people at dinner &mdash; and make sure they don't add the tip until after they are charged for their share of the total. In the worst case scenario, Google has you covered with a <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;rlz=1CAHPZY_enUS620US621&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;es_th=1&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=how+to+calculate+tip&amp;spell=1">tip calculator</a>.</p> <h2>8. Creating a Monthly Budget</h2> <p>Saving for the future is one of the most important things you can start doing in your 20s. These days, we have tons of programs to help <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget">track your spending</a> and expenses. Pick one and start budgeting month-by-month. Once you get the hang of it, start a year-long savings plan.</p> <h2>9. Effectively Packing Luggage</h2> <p>No, we don't mean <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-traveling-with-these-8-things-youre-overpacking">cramming your belongings</a> into a carry-on! Consider your mode of travel, destination, and duration of the trip. Bring exactly the amount of undergarments, shirts, and pants you'll need, and only essential toiletries. Tip: try rolling your clothes together instead of folding for more space.</p> <h2>10. Mending Clothing</h2> <p>Wardrobe malfunctions can happen to anyone at anytime, so basic clothes mending should be in your repertoire. One should know how to sew a button, quickly re-stitch a hem, patch a small hole, and other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-clothing-fit-perfectly-with-these-10-no-sew-fixes">basic clothing fixes</a>. Study a few <a href="http://diyfashion.about.com/od/mendingandalterations/ss/10-Clothing-Fixes-That-Everyone-Should-Know.htm">mending tutorials</a> and start practicing on old garments.</p> <p><em>What other basic life skills have you found essential to know by 30?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-your-job-hunt-from-busting-your-budget">How to Keep Your Job Hunt From Busting Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking">8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-life-skills-that-are-now-completely-obsolete">11 Life Skills That Are Now Completely Obsolete</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For (and 5 You Can Ignore)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Cooking emergency household skills travel twentysomethings Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:00:07 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1351148 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Prevent an Emergency From Driving You Into Debt http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-finances-86515975-small.jpg" alt="couple finances" title="couple finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Emergencies happen, and they can often be expensive &mdash; particularly crises like car accidents, unexpected dental or medical needs, high vet bills, or unexpected flooding in your apartment after a vicious storm. If you have not fully built up your emergency fund yet (or you are hit with back-to-back hardships that your emergency fund can't handle), then you can feel like you have no choice but to go into debt to pay for your emergency. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-plan-better-than-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">Emergency Plan: Better Than an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <p>Nothing could be further from the truth. There are much better ways to take care of emergencies without going into debt. Here are ten things you can do to pay for an emergency without debt:</p> <h2>1. Ask Family or Friends for Help</h2> <p>Asking for financial help can be a serious relationship killer, which is why many people would prefer to do anything (including go into debt) rather than ask a friend for money.</p> <p>But the real problem with getting financial help from a loved one is when there are unmet expectations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-navigate-4-tricky-family-money-situations?ref=seealso">How to Navigate 4 Tricky Family Money Situations</a>)</p> <p>For instance, you might think that your potential benefactor might be doing better financially than they are, or you might think that they ought to help you when they feel much more comfortable saying no to any such request. In either case, you might end up resenting your friend for saying no. You need to go into the conversation with the recognition that they can say no and that it does not reflect in any way on your relationship if they do.</p> <p>On the other end, your lender might feel that you need to pay them back on a quicker time frame than you are comfortable with.</p> <p>The only way to borrow money from a friend or family member with little chance for blowback is to treat it like a financial transaction and actually use a <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/promissorynote.asp">promissory note</a>. This legal agreement (which will cost about <a href="http://www.nolo.com/products/promissory-notes">$9 to DIY</a>, and the borrower should be the one to pay for) will spell out the specifics of payment dates, interest, and other loan details.</p> <p>The other important thing to remember about borrowing from friends is that it cannot become a habit &mdash; no matter how diligent you are about repayment.</p> <h2>2. Ask Your Bank for an Emergency Overdraft</h2> <p>If your emergency occurs within a few days of payday, it could be worth your while to talk to your bank about an emergency overdraft. Explain the situation that you are in and tell the bank how much of an overdraft you will need. Be sure to ask how much the fee will be to cover your overdraft. From there, your bank can either approve or deny your request. Depending on the cost of your overdraft protection, this could be a relatively inexpensive way to get the money you need.</p> <h2>3. Sell or Pawn Something</h2> <p>In an emergency, it becomes clear that some of the stuff you own may be less important than you think. That's a good time to sell some of the things you have kept but no longer need. If you have some time, you can try to sell your things on Craigslist or eBay. If you need money in a hurry, you can take your valuables to a pawnshop. There you have the option of outright selling your goods or pawning them &mdash; taking a loan with a set amount of time to buy it back with interest.</p> <h2>4. Borrow From Your 401(k) or Your IRA</h2> <p>While it's generally a bad idea to borrow from your future to pay for a current need, there are some instances when it makes sense for you to take a loan from one of your retirement accounts. In particular, if you have a short-term emergency need for cash, borrowing that money from your 401(k) or your IRA could get potentially you through the emergency with few consequences to your retirement account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">This Is When You Should Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h3>401(k)</h3> <p>You are legally allowed to access a portion (generally the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/08/borrow-from-401k-loan.asp">lesser of 50% or $50,000</a>) of your retirement plan money tax-free. You are required to repay that amount, plus interest (paid to your account), which will help to restore some of the growth you have lost by taking the loan. Loan rules specify a five-year amortization repayment schedule, but there are no pre-payment penalties if you would like to rebuild your account more quickly. In addition, many plans will allow you to make repayments through payroll deduction, in the same way you make normal contributions.</p> <p>One caveat &mdash; if you leave (or lose) your job before paying back the loan, it will be considered an early distribution, which will mean that you owe the 10% early withdrawal penalty and tax on your loan.</p> <h3>IRA</h3> <p>Strictly speaking, you cannot take a loan from an IRA. However, it is legal to <a href="http://www.creators.com/lifestylefeatures/business-and-finance/money-and-you/can-you-borrow-from-your-ira.html">withdraw money from your IRA for 60 days</a> with a tax-free rollover. Basically, you can take money out of your IRA with no taxes or penalties, provided you put the money back into that or another IRA within 60 calendar days. If you fail to replace the money within that time frame, it will be considered an early withdrawal and you will have to pay income taxes on the money and a 10% penalty.</p> <p>In addition, it's important to note that there is what's known as the one-year rule. You can only do such a tax-free rollover once within any 12-month period.</p> <h2>5. Research Alternatives to Your Emergency</h2> <p>Depending on what major bill has unexpectedly cropped up, you may be able to reduce the expense to something more manageable if you do a little shopping around.</p> <p>For instance, emergency dental work does not necessarily have to break the bank. Dental schools are in constant need of patients for students to practice on. A friend of mine who went through dental school at OSU had a great deal of trouble finding patients for each type of procedure she needed to complete for her degree, and even began offering token amounts of money to patients in order to get them to come in for needed procedures.</p> <p>Call your local university to see if they are in need of dental patients &mdash; or veterinary patients if it's your cat or dog that is having the emergency. In addition, vocational and technical schools need practice in diagnosing engine problems in cars. Your problem could be good experience for a budding professional, while having a student fix it could cost you a lot less.</p> <h2>6. Get a Charitable Grant</h2> <p>There are <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/get-help-paying-rent/">multiple charities</a> that offer one-time cash grants to help individuals in temporary financial difficulty. These grants do not have to be repaid, but qualifications depend on both the limits of the particular charity and your particular situation.</p> <h3>The Salvation Army</h3> <p>Local chapters of the <a href="http://www.salvationarmyusa.org">Salvation Army</a> offer one-time assistance to help cover things like rent. To apply, you must visit your local Salvation Army office and prove your hardship.</p> <h3>Catholic Charities</h3> <p><a href="http://catholiccharitiesusa.org/">Catholic Charities</a> offers emergency assistance grants for applicants who prove their need. You must apply in person and talk with a caseworker.</p> <h3>Modest Needs</h3> <p>This charity is funded similarly to Kickstarter. Private donors pledge money to fund specific grants for those in need, and the applicant will only receive the funds if his or her application is fully funded. Anyone with a job can apply. In particular, <a href="https://www.modestneeds.org/index.asp">Modest Needs</a> offers the Self Sufficiency Grant, which provides up to $1000 to cover one emergency expense.</p> <h3>211</h3> <p><a href="http://211.org/">211.org</a> is a program run through the United Way, and it offers an online database of local nonprofits across the United States.</p> <h2>7. Cut Way Back</h2> <p>How much do you spend each month on food, utilities, gas, and cell phone? You may be able to find enough money in your monthly budget to cover your emergency if you are willing to eat peanut butter and jelly, turn off the a/c, take the bus, and switch off your cell phone data plan for a month. This may sound drastic, but it's preferable to getting into debt just to avoid a few weeks of discomfort.</p> <h2>8. Adjust Your Withholding</h2> <p>One important and reassuring piece of information I learned from my financial planner father was that the IRS does not care what you say on your W-4, as long as you tell them the truth come tax time. That's because the W-4 is simply a form that tells your employer what your allowances are &mdash; not a legally binding claim to the IRS.</p> <p>What that means is that you can potentially <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T055-C000-S001-last-chance-to-fix-your-tax-withholding.html">adjust your withholding on your W-4 form</a> at your workplace and see more money in your very next paycheck. By claiming more allowances on your W-4, you will be sending less of your money to the IRS.</p> <p>If you regularly get a large refund, you can figure out exactly what your withholding should be using the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator">IRS online withholding calculator</a>. In this case, once you've adjusted your withholding, you can keep it at the adjusted amount for the rest of the year and save the difference (ideally in an interest-bearing account or in your retirement account).</p> <p>However, even if your refunds tend to be modest, you can still take advantage of this trick. Simply adjust your withholding for a short time &mdash; a month, for instance &mdash; and submit a new W-4 with your original allowances once the month is up. In this case, you will have to be careful that you have enough set aside at tax time in case there is a shortfall because of this. (And make certain that you re-adjust the numbers back, or else you'll be in for a nasty surprise next April 15.)</p> <h2>9. Try Crowdfunding</h2> <p>Websites like <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/">GoFundMe</a> offer opportunities to raise funds through online donations. These sites allow you to create a profile explaining who you are and why you need the funds. Donors give money to your campaign, and the site takes a percentage of the donation for operational costs. The fundraiser can withdraw the money raised on GoFundMe at any time. GoFundMe has no campaign deadlines or goal limits (although other crowdfunding sites do), and the service is free for the fundraiser.</p> <h2>10. Rent Out Something You Own</h2> <p>No matter where you live or what you do, it's likely that you own something someone else might need temporarily. For instance, if you live in an area that draws tourism or business travel, you might be able to rent out a room (or even the whole place, if you crash at a friend's house) on <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/">Airbnb</a>.</p> <p>Alternatively, if parking is at premium in your area, you could rent out your parking space or garage while you perfect your parallel parking skills (or leave your car elsewhere and take the bus for a few days). Check out sites like <a href="https://www.parkingpanda.com/how-it-works">ParkingPanda</a> and <a href="https://www.justpark.com/rent-out-a-parking-space/?source=pamh">JustPark</a>.</p> <p>Finally, as long as your car is not the basis of your emergency, you could rent it out to visitors who need wheels on <a href="https://relayrides.com/">RelayRides</a>.</p> <h2>Life Happens</h2> <p>In the best-case scenario, we would all have a robust emergency fund and appropriate insurance for every possible curve ball. But even the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_a_Mouse">best-laid schemes &quot;gang aft agley,&quot;</a> and it's important to remember that paying for an emergency does not have to mean taking on debt.</p> <p><em>Have you been fortunate enough to navigate an emergency without crippling your finances? What was your strategy? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance">5 Strategies To Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you">Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management avoid debt debt emergency emergency fund quick cash Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1162784 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For (and 5 You Can Ignore) http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-73271468.jpg" alt="flooded house" title="flooded house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Prepping&quot; is a term that defines the process of getting ready for a catastrophic event. While the word used to have a negative connotation, reserved for folks who take preparation to an extreme, many more everyday people today are using a common sense approach to mitigate damages from a variety of tragic events. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-financially-for-a-natural-disaster?ref=seealso">How to Prepare Financially for a Natural Disaster</a>)</p> <p>The key to keeping your preparations realistic is to weigh the possibility of a particular event actually happening against the amount of work needed to prepare for it. Some events may almost certainly never arrive, while others could happen more than a few times during a person&#39;s life. Many are ridiculously expensive to thwart, while others require just a few dollars a week in extra supplies.</p> <h2>Realistic Preparation</h2> <p>Given the likelihood of a disaster happening, and the possibility of being ready for it, let&#39;s look first at the five disasters you should prepare for.</p> <h2>1. Catastrophic Weather Events</h2> <p>Nebraska and much of the rest of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. recently experienced what scientists have called a &quot;vortex&quot; of cold weather. Temps reached below -50 degrees F due to wind-chill, and this caused a number of issues beyond your typical cold-weather inconveniences. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-safest-cities-in-america-from-natural-disasters?ref=seealso">Safest Cities in America From Natural Disasters</a>)</p> <p>Most Nebraskans, however, weren&#39;t caught unprepared for such an event; we are, after all, accustomed to very cold weather. The same can be said for tornadoes, which happen annually, blizzards, and drought. Each area of the country has its own pattern of weather-related extremes, but since their possibility is no surprise (only their timing and severity), you should be taking appropriate steps throughout the year to have an adequate supply of food, water, and essentials on hand for any disruptions weather may cause.</p> <p>What do we consider &quot;adequate&quot;? While it may vary according to your location, size of family, and stage in life, this basic list from <a href="http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit">Ready.gov</a> gives a good basic starting point. A bare minimum of what you would need for your basic comfort and biological needs for 72 hours is a great place to start. This will include:</p> <ul> <li>Food (and items to open, prepare, and serve it)</li> <li>Water (one gallon per person per day for drinking plus what&#39;s needed for food prep, cleaning, toileting, and washing)</li> <li>Medicines (both prescription and basic OTCs) and first aid supplies</li> <li>Sanitary supplies (diapers, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, wet wipes)</li> <li>Communication devices (cell phones and solar or handcrank chargers)</li> <li>Radio with weather alerts (plus batteries or a means to charge them)</li> <li>Flashlight, LED lantern, or other lighting</li> <li>Basic tools (hammer, wrench, etc)</li> <li>Entertainment (cards, chargers for iPads, games, or books)</li> </ul> <p>Many pre-made kits will contain other &quot;must-haves,&quot; but only you can assess if these items are truly necessary. Putting together your own kit ensures you have only those items that are appropriate for your particular needs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-items-you-might-have-forgot-in-your-emergency-kit?ref=seealso">6 Items to Add to Your Emergency Kit</a>)</p> <h2>2. Loss of Power</h2> <p>Most people take small steps to guard against the complications of having a power outage, and expect that they could happen during weather events. But what about those power outages that take everyone by surprise? Disruptions lasting a few minutes to a few days can happen for a variety of reasons, including freak accidents and scheduled repairs. Waiting until you&#39;re in the dark is too late to come to terms with the chance of a blackout. Stock what you need to go without power for 2&ndash;3 days, at a minimum. It likely will happen at least once every two years.</p> <p>In addition to all the items needed in the basic preparation list above, you&#39;ll need alternative ways to heat food and charge electronics. Camp stoves can be handy for this purpose, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DD6B9IK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DD6B9IK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">solar chargers</a> for a cell phone or radio can be purchased for as little as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00449U3K0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00449U3K0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">$20 online</a>. If you have access to a gasoline generator, operating one safely may be a blessing to your home and your neighbors! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-things-to-have-on-hand-for-power-outages?ref=seealso">20 Things to Have in a Power Outage</a>)</p> <h2>3. Loss of Income</h2> <p>Whether you lose your job, or you take a drastic cut in pay or hours, having less to live on is a reality for most everyone at least once in a career. Most established families have (or should have!) some kind of emergency fund to live on, typically three months income, but having extra essentials on hand may prove to be more useful. (Consider how affordable it may be to stock up on extra non-perishables when they are on sale versus trying to come up with an extra $100 in grocery money down the road during a layoff!) Take into consideration expenses that are slightly &quot;irregular&quot; when you save, as well. Having your annual property taxes due after losing a job can be devastating to an unprepared household. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">How to Create Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>4. Sickness</h2> <p>Whether it&#39;s a ruptured appendix or a terminal case of cancer, illness can rock the worlds of both the patient and their loved ones. In addition to added medical bills, there can be loss of income, an increase in time spent traveling for treatments, or even a major move in school or home location. Being prepared for the worst through illness can be as simple as securing extra coverage on a life insurance plan or getting your advance directive in order before you fall ill. Take time to consider the possibilities of how illness can change things, then work methodically to address each obstacle one by one &mdash; before it happens. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-hit-with-a-huge-medical-bill?ref=seealso">What to Do If You Get a Huge Medical Bill</a>)</p> <h2>5. Fire or Flood (not Weather-Related)</h2> <p>Our family has a tendency to breathe deeply once tornado season is over. The thought of having our home (and all the contents) completely destroyed is a terrifying one, and tornadoes make it a very real possibility. But what about the other ways someone could lose their house? Fires and floods are common, as well, and can happen at any time of year and in any location in the U.S. or around the world. If you don&#39;t already have adequate insurance coverage on your abode and possessions, the time to do that is now. (But be aware; flood coverage is not automatic on home policies. Check your policy language and ensure that you have a separate plan in place.) You&#39;ll also want to take inventory of all of your belongings so that they can be replaced when it comes time for that claim.</p> <h2>Disasters You Probably Don&#39;t Have to Prep For</h2> <p>So what about those situations that aren&#39;t useful to prepare for? While there is no harm is doing some of the legwork for the following disasters (especially those steps that are identical to preparing for other disasters), spending a disproportionate amount of time and money preparing for these events may not be worth the trouble.</p> <ul> <li>Nuclear fallout</li> <li>Electromagnetic pulse (EMP)</li> <li>Collapse of the economy</li> <li>Worldwide pandemic or plague</li> <li>Zombie Apocalypse (yes, there are those who believe)</li> </ul> <p>While the possibility of these five are very real (for some of us, anyway), preparing for each one, specifically, can be costly and may not do much to help you escape the outcome. By starting small, you can be in compliance with my favorite prepping rule: prepare for what makes sense. As times change, the threats will also, but the necessities needed to survive likely will not.</p> <p>(For more information on following common sense prepping rules, I highly recommend &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1616083875/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1616083875&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">The Disaster Preparedness Handbook: A Guide for Families</a>&quot; by Dr. Arthur T. Bradley.)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-need-a-disaster-survival-kit">Do You Need a Disaster Survival Kit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-generators">The 5 Best Generators</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-essentials-every-emergency-bag-should-have">13 Essentials Every Emergency Bag Should Have</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-life-hacks-you-should-master-by-age-30">10 Life Hacks You Should Master by Age 30</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-food-supplies-for-the-lazy-skinflint">Emergency food supplies for the lazy skinflint</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks disaster disaster supplies emergency emergency supplies preparedness Wed, 22 Jan 2014 11:36:08 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1112799 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Generators http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-generators <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-generators" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/generator-117957537.jpg" alt="generator" title="generator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Electricity powers most, if not all, of our important daily necessities and has become an essential resource sustaining our lifestyles, which is why when the power goes out, it can be quite distressing. Fortunately, a solution can be found in the form of an electric generator, which can help keep the power flowing in the event of a power blackout. Wise Bread is here to help you find the best generator to keep your power going with our top 5 list.</p> <h2>What Is a Generator?</h2> <p>A generator is a gas-powered machine that converts mechanical energy into electric energy, which can then be used to generate power in areas or in situations where no power is readily available. There are three main types of generators: stationary, portable, and inverter generators. Depending on the size of their wattage output, a generator can power everything from home appliances to entire houses for hours or days at a time. Inverter generators specifically provide a stable electrical current that's safer for powering delicate electronics, such as TVs and computers. Before buying a generator, it's important to consider what you intend to power with the machine to ensure that you get the most appropriate model for your needs.</p> <h2>Best 5 Generators</h2> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Q0KJII/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004Q0KJII&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/gen-kohler.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 227px; float: right;" /></a>Kohler 14RESAL</h3> <p>A top pick from Consumer Reports, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Q0KJII/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004Q0KJII&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Kohler 14RESAL</a> is a powerful stationary generator with myriad reliable features that can power you through an extended blackout whenever it happens.</p> <p>Whether you're home or not, the 14RESAL automatically starts up immediately when the power goes out, thanks to its automatic transfer switch. From there, it can quietly generate a whopping 12,000 watts of smooth electrical power using natural gas, or 14,000 watts using propane, that can power everything in your home for virtually as long as you need it to. Its air-cooling design includes a useful low-oil shutoff feature with a warning light that helps keep the generator from overheating. The 14RESAL also comes in a corrosion-proof enclosure that effectively protects the generator from the natural elements.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Q0KJII/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004Q0KJII&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $3,615.00 on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C2LV4H8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00C2LV4H8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/gen-generac6237.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 229px; float: right;" /></a>Generac 6237</h3> <p>Don't let the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C2LV4H8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00C2LV4H8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Generac 6237</a>'s smaller size fool you. This stationary generator is another recommended choice from Consumer Reports that is just as capable and reliable at powering your entire home in the case of a blackout and comes at a much more affordable price.</p> <p>A transfer switch and electric start mechanism allows this generator to automatically turn on when a power blackout occurs. The 6237 can generate a hearty 7,000 watts of clean electrical power on natural gas and 1,000 more watts on propane, and it can keep the power going for days. The 6237 comes pre-wired and connects to your home's existing natural gas or propane supply to automatically fuel itself, thus making the generator incredibly hassle-free and easy to operate. An automatic low-oil shutoff comes standard on this model as well for added safety.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C2LV4H8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00C2LV4H8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $2,093.80 on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00372TPCC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00372TPCC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/gen-briggs.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 300px; float: right;" /></a>Briggs &amp; Stratton 30470</h3> <p>Both a Consumer Reports and Consumer Search top pick, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00372TPCC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00372TPCC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Briggs &amp; Stratton 30470</a> is heavy-duty portable generator that can produce up to 7,000 watts, which many users say can easily power an entire house and is especially effective at powering well and sewage pumps too.</p> <p>This generator also comes with automatic voltage regulation, which is a nice feature that allows it to provide surge-free power to smaller electronics. Other notable features on the 30470 include an electric start mechanism that effortlessly powers on the generator and a very helpful fuel gauge and hour meter. Users have also said that this hefty generator is quite easy to move around despite its slightly bulky design.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00372TPCC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00372TPCC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $879.00 on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005BXE9S0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005BXE9S0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/gen-generaclp.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 300px; float: right;" /></a>Generac LP3250</h3> <p>Another Consumer Search top pick, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005BXE9S0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005BXE9S0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Generac LP3250</a> portable generator is a superb basic generator option that's been praised for its convenient features and impressive energy output.</p> <p>The LP3250 is fueled by liquid propane, which is more accessible and environmentally friendly than gasoline. A handy fuel tank holder is also integrated into its lightweight design, allowing you to easily transport the generator and its fuel supply as a single unit. Its 3,250-watt power supply generates enough electricity to keep several home appliances running simultaneously and can provide over 9 hours of power on just half of its fuel tank. Many users also appreciate the LP3250's surprisingly quiet performance as well as its automatic shutdown feature that triggers at low oil levels.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005BXE9S0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005BXE9S0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $609.00 on Amazon.</a></em></p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002RWK9N2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002RWK9N2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/gen-yamaha.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 300px; float: right;" /></a>Yamaha EF2000iS</h3> <p>With a 4&frac12; star average rating from over 200 customer reviews on Amazon, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002RWK9N2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002RWK9N2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Yamaha EF2000iS</a> is a great choice for an inverter generator that has many users impressed by its quality performance.</p> <p>With a continuous surge rating of 1,600 watts, the quite compact EF2000iS can adequately power basic appliances and expensive electronics, but it is possible to daisy-chain two EF2000iS units together to produce more power if desired. This inverter generator is also quite the fuel workhorse, one that's capable of providing 7-10 hours of power using just a quarter of its 1 gallon gas tank, all while never sounding louder than the volume of a normal conversation. While it doesn't come with an electric start mechanism, users say that one pull of the ripcord is all it takes to get this machine up and running.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002RWK9N2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002RWK9N2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Currently $989.10 on Amazon.</a></em></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best generators. As always, be sure to check out the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/william-tran">William Tran</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-generators">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For (and 5 You Can Ignore)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-indoor-tv-antennas">The 5 Best Indoor TV Antennas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-fabric-softeners">The 5 Best Fabric Softeners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-mops">The 5 Best Mops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-swiss-army-knives">The 5 Best Swiss Army Knives</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Buying Guides disaster emergency generators power blackout preparedness product reviews Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:24:49 +0000 William Tran 1113808 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do (and Not Do) When You're in a Car Accident http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-youre-in-a-car-accident <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-youre-in-a-car-accident" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car-emergency-4796220-small.jpg" alt="car accident" title="car accident" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever been in a car accident, chances are that taking photos of the accident scene and remembering to get the other driver's insurance information weren't your first thoughts. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-do-you-have-the-best-auto-insurance-coverage-for-your-needs">Financial IQ Test: Do You Have the Best Auto Insurance Coverage for Your Needs?</a>)</p> <p>Making sure you, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the accident are safe, and that medical help is on the way, should be the first step. But once things have calmed down and you have a few minutes to gather your thoughts, there are some things you shouldn't do, and a few you should, right after a car accident.</p> <h2>What You Shouldn't Do</h2> <p>It's hard to think straight after a trauma like an auto accident, but these mistakes can hurt you later, even if you follow all of the &quot;shoulds&quot; outlined below.</p> <p><strong>Talk Too Much</strong></p> <p>Police, insurance investigators, and the other driver may want to talk to you to find out what happened. If it's a minor fender-bender that you're at fault for, cooperating with police is a good idea. But if it's a criminal or negligent act, such as running a stop light, you may want to first talk to a lawyer after providing basic information such as proof of insurance, driver's license, and car registration to police.</p> <p>Talking to someone other than your attorney&nbsp;&mdash; including your own insurance company&nbsp;&mdash; after a car accident can hurt because your statement can be obtained by the other side's insurance company and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.onlineautoinsurance.org/6-things-not-to-say-to-your-insurer-or-a-cop-after-an-accident/">used against you</a>. Something as simple as an apology after the accident can be taken as an admission of guilt and liability.</p> <p><strong>Share Too Much Personal Info</strong></p> <p>It may be instinctive to give your home address and telephone number to the other driver involved in the crash, but you don't have to. To avoid having your personal information stolen, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners <a target="_blank" href="http://www.naic.org/Releases/2012_docs/wreckcheck_mobile_app_auto_accidents.htm">recommends not sharing personal information</a> such as a driver's license number. Since many retailers use that information to verify identity over the phone, it's best to only give your name and vehicle insurance information to the other driver.</p> <p><strong>Fail to Call the Police</strong></p> <p>Close to 20% of people believe the only reason to call police after an accident is if someone is injured, according to the NAIC, which has a free smartphone app called <a target="_blank" href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wreckcheck/id543290503?mt=8">WreckCheck</a> to walk users through creating an accident report. Filing a police report, however, can help facilitate the insurance claims process, the NAIC says.</p> <h2>What You Should Do</h2> <p>While you're avoiding saying too much or giving up too much information, you should also be aware of safety and gathering information you will need later.</p> <p><strong>Get Off the Road</strong></p> <p>Get to safety as soon as you can. If it's a minor fender-bender, move your car safely off the road and out of traffic. If you can't move your car without creating more damage, don't try &mdash; leave it to a tow truck. State Farm <a target="_blank" href="http://www.statefarm.com/insurance/claim-center/auto/what-to-do-after-an-auto-accident.asp">recommends keeping flares or other warning devices</a> in your trunk to alert traffic of your emergency.</p> <p><strong>Take Photos</strong></p> <p>If you have your cellphone with you, videotape or photograph the accident scene, so that your insurer can see where it happened and get an idea of how it might have happened. You don't want to get in the way of police, and you should only do this if you, any of your passengers, and people in the other car (if one is involved) are safe. There are lots of <a target="_blank" href="http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/07/android-iphone-smart-phone-apps-that-can-help-after-a-car-crash.html">auto insurance smartphone apps</a> that include accident reporting tools to help you collect photos, audio recordings, and other information so you can more easily file a claim with your insurer.</p> <p><strong>Take Notes</strong></p> <p>You should draw a map of what happened for your insurer, and write down how you remember the accident, along with weather and traffic conditions, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/repair-the-car-or-spend-the-cash">property and vehicle damage</a>, and injuries to you or others. If there are witnesses nearby, get their names and phone numbers. And of course, get the name and insurance information from any driver whose car was in the accident. If your insurer doesn't provide you with an accident form to keep in your car, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.insureuonline.org/auto_accident_checklist.pdf">print one out from insureuonline.org</a> (PDF) and fill it out if possible at the accident scene.</p> <p><strong>Tell the DMV</strong></p> <p>Most states require drivers to report accidents to the DMV, so be sure to do that within a day or so of the accident.</p> <p><strong>Keep Your Documents Handy</strong></p> <p>If you've kept your proof of auto insurance forms that most insurers mail to policyholders in your glovebox, then a lot of this should be easy, and you'll have your insurer's phone number handy to call as soon as possible. Some states allow <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pciaa.net/web/sitehome.nsf/lcpublic/926?opendocument">electronic proof of insurance</a> on a cellphone.</p> <p>You'll probably get a visit from an insurance claims adjustor soon after the accident, which won't be as traumatizing as the accident, but will make life a lot more interesting as you try to recreate the accident and explain what happened. It'll be a lot easier if you've followed the advice above.</p> <p><strong>File Your Claim</strong></p> <p>Now that you're safe and have exchanged information, file an insurance claim with your carrier. Your insurer should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so don't delay in making the call.</p> <p>If you can do all of this after an accident, you should congratulate yourself on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-items-you-might-have-forgot-in-your-emergency-kit">being prepared and getting through a traumatic experience</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been in an auto accident? What do you wish you had done, or hadn't done, afterward?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-youre-in-a-car-accident">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-steps-you-must-take-if-youve-been-in-a-car-accident">10 Steps You Must Take If You&#039;ve Been in a Car Accident</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-claim-will-impact-your-car-insurance">Here&#039;s How a Claim Will Impact Your Car Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-cheap-auto-insurance-for-young-drivers">How to Get Cheap Auto Insurance for Young Drivers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tips-to-save-on-car-insurance">4 Tips to Save on Car Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-being-a-safe-driver-will-save-you-big-money">4 Ways Being a Safe Driver Will Save You Big Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Insurance auto insurance car accident emergency safety Wed, 24 Jul 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Aaron Crowe 980560 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You're Hit With a Huge Medical Bill http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-hit-with-a-huge-medical-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-youre-hit-with-a-huge-medical-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8169560070_290a4e1fc4_b.jpg" alt="A man works on a pile of bills at a desk." title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you've had an emergency come up or you had a necessary but costly procedure, and you're pressed to pay your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiF6-0UTqtc">medical bills</a>. Don't ignore them (trust me, I've seen some horrid credit scores due to unpaid medical bills), but also don't panic. Think strategically about how you can pay off your debts &mdash; maybe you can build reward points on a credit card or use a local charity to help pay the bills.</p> <p>Because when you barely have a savings account, how are you supposed to shell out that much money immediately? And even if you do have a savings account, let's be honest &mdash; none of us are saving up for a medical expense. Savings accounts take commitment, and should only be used for fun! Below are some ways to pay off your medical debt without losing your mind. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-free-or-cheap-health-resources">How to Find Free&nbsp;(or Cheap) Health&nbsp;Resources</a>)</p> <h2>Before the Procedure</h2> <p>If your situation isn't an emergency, make sure you know the full story before going through with a procedure so you're not surprised when the bills start adding up.</p> <p><strong>Make Sure You Know Every Single Cost</strong></p> <p>Don't be surprised months later! Before undergoing a recent procedure, I was told the cost would be $700. Once the procedure was over, the bills started rolling in, and the actual cost was closer to $2,500. When I called to question the amount, the nurse &quot;kindly&quot; explained that I should have already been debriefed on the cost. When I insisted I hadn't been, she said, &quot;Well, that's too bad.&quot; Nothing could be done at that point. The procedure was done and the money was owed. And yes, it was too bad. Make sure you know every cost and contest anything you weren't aware of.</p> <p><strong>Do the Procedure Early in the Year</strong></p> <p>Nothing worse than having a medical expense toward the end of the year, make a payment plan to pay it off before the end of the following year, and then have your deductible roll back to zero as soon as the new year begins. If you can wait until the beginning of the next calendar year, do so and get the most out of your deductible.</p> <p><strong>Wait Until You Hear From Your Insurance Company</strong></p> <p>One time a doctor wanted to do an &quot;experimental&quot; procedure that was &quot;hard to approve through insurance.&quot; I quickly said, &quot;No way!&quot; but he tried to get them to approve it anyway. I got a denial letter in the mail, and the next day I received a call from my doctor's office to schedule the appointment. When I said the insurance company hadn't approved it, they vehemently fought me. The insurance company had approved it, according to their records. I told them I wasn't interested in the procedure and hung up the phone.</p> <h2>After You Receive the Bill(s)</h2> <p>Once you receive the bill(s) from your healthcare professional, don't panic or get angry.</p> <p><strong>Call Your Doctor</strong></p> <p>Once you receive your bill, the first thing to do is call your doctor and ask for an itemized list of what was done during a procedure or emergency room visit.</p> <p>When you receive your itemized list, whip out your explanation of benefits and compare and contrast. Sometimes, a nurse can mistakenly code something incorrectly, or other times a hospital can charge you for anesthesiology when you already have to pay an anesthesiologist separately. For clarification, call your insurance company and find out how it was coded. Note that insurance companies usually cover preventative care completely, but not generally follow-ups.</p> <p><strong>Payment Plans</strong></p> <p>Once you suss out the charges, find out if they do payment plans (and more importantly if there are any fees or interest associated with one).</p> <p>Weigh the options &mdash; sometimes it's better to pay off the debt, so you don't have to worry about it and then replenish your savings. I've run into some trouble with a medical center that was not properly communicating with their billing department. First, they didn't have a record that I had set up a payment plan, and then they didn't receive my first two payments, although they'd taken the funds out of my account. I've yelled and cried until someone resolved it (not always the best option!), but the worst part was when the woman told me I should have written down the name of the person who set up the payment plan. Nothing like fighting a lost cause.</p> <p>All this is to say, make sure that every single time you speak to someone, you write down their name, the date and time, and their call back number. Different people give you different answers.</p> <p><strong>Charge It</strong></p> <p>After my recent procedure when I received four bills instead of the promised one, and I called regarding each one to set up a payment plan, I was frustrated &mdash; most of the places I was going to have to call every single month to give them a credit card number or mail a check. So, I decided to find a credit card with 0% APR, charge it, and reap all the benefits.</p> <p>I searched around, but as an already loyal Bank of America customer I had been bombarded by their cash rewards card offers. I'm not saying this is the best option for you necessarily, so <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-of-2012">do your homework </a>and read all the fine print. I got a $115 bonus for my purchases; every little bit counts! Just make sure you pay attention to when your 0% APR ends; you don't want to be hit with a major bill later.</p> <p><strong>Financial Assistance</strong></p> <p>If there's nowhere to turn, try an organization that can help you in a financial crisis.</p> <p>First of all, read this informative article about <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">how to erase your medical debt</a>. In other words, some hospitals offer the chance to have some or all of your medical bills erased if you make below a certain amount. Otherwise, there are plenty of organizations and charities who can help: the <a target="_blank" href="http://answers.usa.gov/system/selfservice.controller?CONFIGURATION=1000&amp;PARTITION_ID=1&amp;CMD=VIEW_ARTICLE&amp;ARTICLE_ID=11511">government</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.patientadvocate.org/">Patient Advocate Foundation</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://healthwellfoundation.org/">HealthWell Foundation</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/">Catholic Charities</a> or <a target="_blank" href="http://www.panfoundation.org/">Patient Access Network</a>. If you have a particular disease, such as cancer or a chronic disease, there are separate organizations to help you. Search around and you might be able to find some relief. Also, your own hospital might have a charity organization attached to it. It doesn't hurt to ask.</p> <h2>Next Steps</h2> <p>After you've come to grips with paying your high medical bills, try to use them to your advantage.</p> <p><strong>Do Every Procedure You've Been Avoiding</strong></p> <p>Well, your deductible is paid...for this year...so immediately do anything else you've been putting off. If you've had a persistent stomach ache or heartburn, go to a gastroenterologist. If you have a rash, go to a dermatologist. If you need your wisdom teeth pulled (and they haven't been painful, just annoyingly there, like mine), make sure it's covered under medical expenses and get them yanked out! You've paid in quite a bit, so get some return on your investment into your own body.</p> <p><strong>Deduct Big Medical Expenses at Tax Time</strong></p> <p>Keep a record of everything you've paid for. If it exceeds 7.5% of your total income, you might be able to deduct it from your taxes. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-hire-a-tax-professional-even-if-you-dont-mind-the-work">Consult a tax professional</a> on this one, unless you easily <a target="_blank" href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html">understand the IRS website.</a> And if that's the case, please call me; I need some tax advice for medical expenses.</p> <p><em>How have you managed (or retired!) a large medical debt?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jennifer-holder">Jennifer Holder</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-hit-with-a-huge-medical-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">How to Erase Your Medical Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-heart-my-high-deductible-health-insurance-plan">Why I (Heart) My High Deductible Health Insurance Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-debt-is-killing-you-heres-the-cure">Your Debt Is Killing You — Here&#039;s the Cure</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Health and Beauty emergency medical bills medical debt Thu, 28 Feb 2013 11:24:31 +0000 Jennifer Holder 967972 at http://www.wisebread.com The Types of Health Insurance Plans http://www.wisebread.com/the-types-of-health-insurance-plans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-types-of-health-insurance-plans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4406308114_9187def354_z.jpg" alt="doctor" title="doctor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Understanding the kinds of health insurance plans isn&rsquo;t easy. Textbook definitions differ from real-world designs offered by your employer or private insurance agencies.</p> <p>Insurance companies may use corporate doublespeak, christening a plan with a name that is misleading and even the opposite of the plan type. And you may not be able to use the plan as intended because its design is not in sync with the day-to-day practices of healthcare providers, through no fault of the insurance company. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-free-or-cheap-health-resources">How to Find Free (or Cheap) Health&nbsp;Resources</a>)</p> <h2>Theoretical Health Insurance Plans</h2> <p>Still, it is useful to learn about the kinds of health insurance plans. <em>In theory</em>, comprehensive health insurance plans fall under one of these categories.</p> <p><strong>HMO Plans / EPO Plans </strong></p> <p>Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs) restrict your choice of providers (physicians, hospitals, etc.) as a way to manage care and contain costs.</p> <p>Typically, a primary care physician (PCP) coordinates your care with specialty physicians and other providers within the HMO or exclusive provider network. To keep costs low, preventive care is emphasized. Also, you might have less say in the care you receive or find that getting a referral is difficult because the plan design encourages cost control.</p> <p>Monthly premiums may be relatively higher but usage costs, such as co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles, tend to be lower than average. Overall, expenses should be lower based on better management of healthcare expenditures on your behalf.</p> <p><strong>PPO Plans</strong></p> <p>Preferred Provider Option (PPO) or Preferred Provider Network (PPN) plans have a list of healthcare providers that are preferred. There are financial incentives to visit these physicians, have surgical procedures at these hospitals, etc. as compared to those that are not preferred, aka out-of-network providers.</p> <p>Generally, when you use network providers, you pay lower co-pays and fee percentages. Plus, you get pre-negotiated, discounted rates for services as compared to higher costs associated with out-of-network physicians and facilities.</p> <p>A PPO plan may have specifications on how you get coverage for services. For example, you may need to get a pre-certification to cover the cost of surgery.</p> <p><strong>POS Plans </strong></p> <p>Point-of-Service (POS) plans are sometimes described as a hybrid of HMO and PPO plans, or considered so similar to PPOs that they are classified together. Similar to the HMO, you choose a primary care physician from a list of approved providers and the PCP manages your care, making referrals to specialists as deemed appropriate.</p> <p>Like the PPO, there are financial incentives to using in-network providers, but you can get some reimbursement (or have charges applied to deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, etc.) when you use out-of-network providers.</p> <p><strong>Fee-for-Service Plans </strong></p> <p>Fee-for-service plans are considered traditional plans or traditional indemnity plans, meaning that the insurance operates like your auto or homeowner's insurance. You pay monthly premiums and when you visit a healthcare provider, you file a claim. After you meet the deductible for the year, you receive reimbursement for your expenses.</p> <p>Under traditional plans, there is no mechanism that controls healthcare expenses or limits your usage, until you reach maximums (if any) for reimbursement. (See <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-two-other-numbers-to-look-at">Health Insurance Plans, Two Other Numbers to Look at</a>&nbsp;to learn about annual and lifetime maximums.)</p> <p><strong>HDHPs/CDHPs</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-heart-my-high-deductible-health-insurance-plan">High-deductible health plans</a> (HDHP) have, well, a high deductible. Except for preventive care (which may be covered under your policy), you must reach the deductible before you get reimbursement for medical expenses.</p> <p>HDHPs are considered <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/ar02.html#en_US_2011_publink1000204025">HSA eligible</a> if the deductible is at least $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for a family, and other requirements are met. You can set aside money in a Health Savings Account (HSA) for expenses in the current year or future years; plus you can get a tax break for contributions. When the plan is linked to an HSA, the plan may be called an Account-Based Health Plan (ABHP).</p> <p>These plans may also be described as consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) because there is generally less oversight by the insurance company or physicians in regard to healthcare spending. As the name implies, the consumer directs healthcare purchases. Because more responsibility is placed on the consumer to pay a greater portion of medical bills (at least for day-to-day expenditures), the insured has a greater incentive to control costs. (See <a href="http://healthpopuli.com/2011/01/13/health-consumers-with-hras-arent-more-cost-conscious-about-health-consumption/">The Myth of Consumer-Directed Health Care</a> on the difference between theory and practice.)</p> <h2>Real-World Health Insurance Plans</h2> <p><em>In practice</em>, the lines between the various types of plans are blurred, <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/ask/archive/understanding-health-care-reform-affordable-care-act.html">Kiplinger&rsquo;s Kimberly Lankford</a> tells me. For example, she explains that most health insurance plans, whether HMO, PPO, POS, Fee for Service, or HDHP, offer a network of providers along with financial incentives to use these providers.</p> <p>Looking at the actual design of a specific plan offered by your employer or available through a private insurance company, then, may be more useful than trying to determine costs and benefits based on a plan&rsquo;s label. Consider these features that may be common among many plans:</p> <ul> <li>There is a financial incentive for using in-network providers, such as lower co-pays.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>It costs more to use out-of-network providers except in an emergency.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Primary care physicians are responsible for directing your care; that is, a referral is required to see specialists.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prevention is emphasized and covered under the policy without having to reach deductibles.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The deductible is high.</li> </ul> <p>From my experience, many physicians, hospitals, and other medical providers follow managed-care protocols associated with HMO, EPO, PPO, or POS plans regardless of your insurance plan. For example, a specialist may require you to have a referral from a primary care physician even if your HDHP does not have this requirement.</p> <p>Or providers may make recommendations about your care by saying &ldquo;your insurance will cover _____ procedure&rdquo; or &ldquo;your insurance won&rsquo;t pay for ____ visit&rdquo; based on their past experiences with other types of insurance, not specific knowledge of your plan. Their thinking might be so rigid and attuned to matching care with expected insurance coverage that you are not given the right information in order to use your plan as designed.</p> <p>On the other hand, you may enlist the help of your primary care physician to make decisions, let you know what kind of screenings may be most beneficial based on your family medical history, advise on what tests may be needed to diagnose a condition, etc. So, even if you have a CDHP, you can create your own kind of &ldquo;managed care&rdquo; without the restrictions of an HMO, PPO, etc.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>What kind of health insurance plan do you have? Does it neatly fall into one of these categories or are the lines blurred?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-types-of-health-insurance-plans">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here&#039;s What&#039;s New</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance emergency health care health insurance Mon, 23 Jul 2012 10:24:35 +0000 Julie Rains 942159 at http://www.wisebread.com Take an Imaginary Do-Over http://www.wisebread.com/take-an-imaginary-do-over <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/take-an-imaginary-do-over" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4333249778_2c39c9f6bb_b.jpg" alt="Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring" title="Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine everything you owned was lost in an insured catastrophe. Your debts were paid, and you had a lump of cash big enough that you were left &mdash; financially &mdash; in about the same position you're in now, but you had no possessions except the clothes on your back, a small box of your most precious mementos, and a USB drive with all your photos.</p> <p>Go through the mental exercise of figuring out how you'd deploy that cash to best satisfy your needs and wants. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary&nbsp;&quot;Needs&quot;</a>)</p> <h2>The Exercise</h2> <p>Start with the little stuff:</p> <p><strong>Your Furniture</strong></p> <p>For a lot of people, this is the most fun category, because a lot of people bought cheap crappy furniture so they wouldn't have to sit on the floor, and then found themselves stuck with it &mdash; because who can afford to replace perfectly good furniture just because it's cheap and crappy?</p> <p><strong>Your Wardrobe</strong></p> <p>How much is stuff you wear every week? How much is special-purpose (swimwear, interview clothes)? How much is too big, too small, or just not quite right?</p> <p><strong>Your Tools</strong></p> <p>How many are for sports or hobbies you've abandoned? How many are duplicates because your spouse also had one, or because you couldn't find the one you had when you needed it?</p> <p><strong>Your Dishes, Pots, and Pans</strong></p> <p>How much of your kitchen and dining utensils only get used for two meals a year?</p> <p>Then go on to the big stuff:</p> <p><strong>Your Transportation</strong></p> <p>If all your vehicles were gone, what would you replace them with? If you can get by with one less vehicle, you can save <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">a huge amount of money</a> &mdash; it costs over $8,000 a year to operate a car.</p> <p><strong>Your Residence</strong></p> <p>If you've just lost all your stuff, you probably don't need as much room. If that means you could fit into a smaller house, an apartment instead of a house, or a smaller apartment, that could save you a huge amount of money. More importantly, it could go on saving you money for years to come &mdash; lower taxes, less maintenance expenses, lower insurance premiums, smaller monthly payments, etc.</p> <p>I wrote a lot of posts back in 2007 and 2008 trying to convince people that houses were a poor investment. (For example, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/renting-is-cheaper">Renting Is Cheaper</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-equity-was-always-imaginary">Your Equity Was Always Imaginary</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-your-house-is-really-worth">What Your House Is Really Worth</a>.)</p> <p>That's not such a hard sell now as it was then. A lot more people are ready to think of their residence as a place to live, rather than imagining that it's an investment.</p> <h2>The Reality</h2> <p>Some people enjoy going through this mental exercise. Imagining that you could wipe away all the errors you've made in accumulating stuff that you don't need is fun. But it's still a fantasy. The reality is tougher. Most of your stuff couldn't be sold for anything like its replacement cost. (And nobody's life is so bad that it'd be improved by going to jail for insurance fraud.)</p> <p>But I think the mental exercise of imagining what you'd do is still worthwhile, because it's a way to understand what you really want.</p> <p>If you understand what you really want, you can make progress toward it, even if you can't take the big leap of replacing all your stuff with cash. If you know you'd like to move to a smaller place, you can prepare by getting rid of clothes you no longer wear and hobby gear you no longer use. Over time, you can downsize your footprint enough that you'd fit in that smaller house. In the meantime, you get to enjoy a more relaxed, less cluttered house.</p> <p>The reality of losing everything you own would suck. It would be very different from the fantasy of freedom it provides.</p> <p>But you have something even better than the fantasy of freedom. You have actual freedom. Granted, if you have a lot of money invested in stuff that you couldn't possibly sell for what you paid for it &mdash; or worse, if you've got a car that's worth much less than what you owe on it, or if you're way <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">underwater on a mortgage</a> &mdash; there would be a cost to actualizing that freedom. But much of that cost could be recouped in fairly short order, if your imaginary do-over life were cheaper than the life you're living now.</p> <p>Once you start imagining that life, you can start taking steps to prepare for it, and pretty soon after that, you can start taking steps to move toward it. Fantasies can come true in the best way.</p> <p>As one of the early steps, I suggest that you create that thumb drive of your photos, because fantasies can also come true in the worst ways.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/take-an-imaginary-do-over">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-declutter-your-digital-life">5 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mind-blowing-tiny-houses-with-huge-design-inspiration">Mind-Blowing Tiny Houses With Huge Design Inspiration</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-holding-onto-too-much-stuff-is-a-burden-for-your-loved-ones">Why Holding Onto Too Much Stuff Is a Burden for Your Loved Ones</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-frugal-living-resolutions-anyone-can-master">23 Frugal Living Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle declutter do-over downsizing emergency Fri, 16 Mar 2012 10:36:13 +0000 Philip Brewer 911566 at http://www.wisebread.com How To Plan For A Crisis http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-plan-for-a-crisis <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-plan-for-a-crisis" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-plan-for-a-crisis</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-plan-for-a-crisis" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015215413Small_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bad weather, a devastating earthquake and chemical or industrial accidents can cost you plenty&mdash;even put you out of business&mdash;if you aren't prepared. But properly handled, &quot;That which does not kill us makes us stronger,&quot; as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it.</p> <p>Ultimately, a crisis can be an agent for change&nbsp;that leads to increased flexibility and&nbsp;adaptability, and can help reduce the impact of future crises. Planning for, and management of, a crisis is possible.</p> <p><strong>Crisis planning</strong></p> <p>Preparing for the unknown may sound like a futile exercise, but you need to plan for how you will continue to operate, or temporarily shutdown in an orderly way, regardless of the problem.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Systems:</strong>&nbsp;How will you keep automated systems operating, and create manual backups when you can&rsquo;t?</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Infrastructure:</strong>&nbsp;How will you maintain infrastructures ranging from electrical supply to supplier deliveries?</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Public</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Relations:</strong>&nbsp;What is your public relations plan that communicates that you are aware, in control, and doing something?</li> </ul> <p>For example, do you have a call ladder? You call two people, each of them calls two people, and in 10 steps, over a 1,000 people can be in personal contact. You can use the concept for employees, suppliers and even customers.</p> <p>Training and simulation are keystones in disaster planning.</p> <p><a href="http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp" target="_blank">Federal Emergency Management Agency</a>&nbsp;(FEMA),&nbsp;<a href="http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=58d51a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD&amp;vgnextfmt=default" target="_blank">American Red Cross</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncdp.mailman.columbia.edu/crlccourses.html" target="_blank">The national Center for Disaster Preparedness</a>&nbsp;through Columbia University, and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bt.cdc.gov/" target="_blank">Center for Disease Control</a>&nbsp;all offer free disaster planning courses online.</p> <p>Training isn&rsquo;t enough, though. The maxim that &ldquo;practice makes perfect&rdquo; is true. Unless you test your plans, you really can&rsquo;t be sure they&rsquo;ll be effective.</p> <p>NASA has a telework program, for example, that&rsquo;s an integral piece of their Continuity of Operations plan. So periodically, they declare a simulated emergency and designated telecommuters sign in from home.</p> <p><strong>Crisis management</strong></p> <p>When the worst does happen, you have to manage both the actual problem and perceived problems. Communication can be either the solution or the problem.</p> <p>When a murderer added cyanide to Tylenol capsules, killing seven, Johnson &amp; Johnson pulled $100 million of product off shelves and their CEO appeared on TV to explain what they were doing. Sales quickly returned to pre-crisis levels.</p> <p>On the other hand, when toxic gas escaped from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India, communication breakdowns before, during and after the disaster only made matters worse. Crisis plans and emergency instructions were only available in English. Senior executives were put under house arrest and cut off when they arrived in India.</p> <p>Management and staff blamed each other, records were changed in a massive coverup. Amazingly, sabotage was found as the probable cause, but popular reporting was allowed to ignore that &ldquo;virtual certainty.&rdquo; Twenty-five years later, the company is still struggling with repercussions including fines and even jail terms for two executives.</p> <p>The bottom line: make communication a priority. Even when it's tempting to ignore phone calls while putting out the &quot;figurative or literal&quot; fire.</p> <p><strong>Crisis recovery</strong></p> <p>Properly handled, you can benefit from a crisis. Besides offering the opportunity for examination and change, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nrf.com/Attachments.asp?id=12546" target="_blank">study by the University of Oxford</a>&nbsp;found that post-crisis stock prices on average increased by 5 percent for the companies that were prepared. Companies that fumbled lost as much as 15 percent.</p> <p>Good management can be more effective than insurance in mitigating the impact of a catastrophe. Your business shouldn't fail because Mother Nature is acting up or a man-made disaster occurs.</p> <p>Create a crisis management plan that&rsquo;s appropriate for your organization. Test it. Refine it. Communicate it. And use it when the time comes, because it will come. Even as this is written, there&rsquo;s another hurricane headed for the East Coast.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tom-harnish">Tom Harnish</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-plan-for-a-crisis">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-need-a-disaster-survival-kit">Do You Need a Disaster Survival Kit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">Figuring the Size of Your Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For (and 5 You Can Ignore)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt">10 Ways to Prevent an Emergency From Driving You Into Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center catastrophe Crisis earthquake emergency hurricane Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:39:40 +0000 Tom Harnish 713546 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Are You Saving Up for an Emergency? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-are-you-saving-up-for-an-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-are-you-saving-up-for-an-emergency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/food pantry.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="205" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div id="breadcrumb" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 0.9em; "> <div class="breadcrumb" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0.5em; padding-left: 0px; "><em>The winners of the $10 Amazon Gift Card are:</em></div> </div> <div class="node node-blog" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "> <div class="article" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 30px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "> <div class="article-body" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 1em; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; clear: both; "> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><strong>Comment #16:&nbsp;</strong><a class="active" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; color: rgb(43, 150, 203); text-decoration: none; font-size: 1.2em; " href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-are-you-saving-up-for-an-emergency#comment-358781"><strong>I was amazed to find a lot</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;submitted by Terry D</strong> - &quot;I was amazed to find a lot of people blogging about preparing for The End Of Life As We Know It. Peak oil and climate change are worrisome enough without trying to stockpile supplies in my garage or basement. I buy more if I find an item at a good price, but I also don't eat the canned beans until the ice cream and cookies are gone. I hope we have some warning before a catastrophe strikes, because I won't be in very good shape otherwise.&quot;</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><strong>Tweet from </strong><a href="http://twitter.com/gumnos"><strong>@Gumnos</strong></a>&nbsp;- &quot;Large backup stashes from sales (e.g. cereal or pasta &amp; sauce), but not saved intentionally for emergency purposes.&quot;</p> <p><span class="meta entry-meta" style="margin-top: 0.5em; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; display: block; font-size: 1em; color: rgb(153, 153, 153); line-height: 1.25em; font-family: 'Lucida Grande'; font-style: italic; "><a class="entry-date" rel="bookmark" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(153, 153, 153); " href="http://twitter.com/gumnos/status/3893646989"><span class="published" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">12:03 PM Sep 10th</span></a>&nbsp;<span style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">from web</span></span></div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Living in rural American, there are many opportunities to save for a rainy day. In lieu of cash, gold, or savings bonds, many families have turned to laying hens, small-breed cattle, and extravagant canning and freezing systems to be sure they will always have food on hand. Even with the economy looking to be a bit more &quot;up&quot; these days, some are still insisting that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">investing in canned goods</a> is always a safe bet -- perhaps one that may provide the ultimate in security should some unforeseen disaster happen (remember the Y2K that never was?)</p> <p>While I believe in storing up for a couple months, just in case we can't get to the store (which is located almost an hour away), we haven't yet taken the plunge toward 2-5 years of food being stashed away.; The time, planning, and financial investment is a bit out of reach (and I'm not sure where I would put it all, anyway.) What about you? Are you someone who has a careful plan toward long-term food storage? Do you cause your friends and family to roll their eyes at your apocalyptic ramblings of how to store grain for 2011? Or are you barely managing to keep a week's worth of nutritious food on hand for when you cousin's kids come over?</p> <p>We want to hear your thoughts on food storage. Do you do it for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-do-today-to-prepare-for-a-pandemic-flu">emergency insurance</a>? Do you have it only as a result of amazing CVS deals gone wild? Is it something you feel is important? Crazy? Tell us in the comments and you will be entered to win our weekly $10 prize? (That's enough to order a good book on canning and freezing!)</p> <h2>Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate</h2> <p>We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random <a href="http://www.twitter.com/">tweets</a>.</p> <h3>How to Enter:</h3> <ol type="1" start="1"> <li class="MsoNormal">Post your answer in the comments below, or</li> <li class="MsoNormal"><a href="http://www.twitter.com/">Tweet</a> your answer. Include both &quot;<a title=" @wisebread #moneytippers" href="http://twitter.com/wisebread">@wisebread</a>&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.</li> </ol> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <p>At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.</p> <h3>Giveaway Rules:</h3> <ul type="disc"> <li class="MsoNormal">Contest ends Tuesday, September 14th at 10:45am CST. Winners will be announced after September 14th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.</li> <li class="MsoNormal">You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.</li> <li class="MsoNormal">Only tweets that contain both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good luck! <br /> </strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-are-you-saving-up-for-an-emergency">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/windows-phone-7-giveaway">Windows Phone 7 &amp; XBox Live Gold Membership Giveaway From Wise Bread</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-look-forward-to-tax-time-your-chance-to-win-20">Ask the Readers: Do You Look Forward to Tax Time? (Your Chance to win $20!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-the-word-recession-mean-to-you-answer-for-a-chance-to-win-10">What Does the Word &quot;Recession&quot; Mean to You? (Answer for a Chance to Win $10!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-ways-your-house-can-earn-a-paycheck">17 Ways Your House Can Earn a Paycheck</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tj-maxx-giving-away-500-in-gift-cards-to-wise-bread-readers">TJ Maxx Giving Away $500 in Gift Cards to Wise Bread Readers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways emergency food pantry storage Thu, 10 Sep 2009 15:13:33 +0000 Linsey Knerl 3590 at http://www.wisebread.com Managing Your Short-Term Money http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/managing-your-short-term-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/banknotes_1.jpg" alt="Actual, physical banknotes" title="Banknotes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="128" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's easy to find books and articles on how to manage your money to support your long-term goals. You can read a lot about stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, investing in gold, real estate, options and futures. But managing your day-to-day spending money tends to get short shrift. Here's a primer.</p> <p>There are three big reasons to hold cash: Liquidity, short-term goals, and emergencies.</p> <h2>Liquidity</h2> <p>You need a certain amount of money on hand just to pay your bills. People whose bills are small and predictable can actually get by with very small liquidity balances--a student living in a dorm with a meal plan, for example, might only need to carry a liquidity balance big enough to keep him in sodas and pizza.</p> <p>If you've got a handle on your expenses, it's very easy to figure out what you need for a liquidity balance: It's the total of all the money you need to spend between now and the next time you'll get some income.</p> <p>Most people's expenses vary from month to month--you need less in spring and fall when you're not running the heat or the air conditioner, but you need more for the months the property taxes and insurance payments are due. You can, if you want, adjust your liquidity balances to match.</p> <p>My wife and I actually do that. Each month we know pretty accurately what our bills are going to come to: We know which months things like insurance bills need to be paid and we keep track of how much we've charged on our credit cards. Pretty much everything else except the electric bill is the same every month. Each month we figure out what we're going to have to pay out and make sure there's enough in the checking account to cover it.</p> <p>Most people don't bother--they just carry a liquidity balance that's big enough to handle their expenses in any ordinary month. Especially when interest rates are low, there's no problem with this. (When you can earn a significant return on your savings, there's a real cost to having money sit idle in your checking account. Right now, not so much.)</p> <h2>Short-term goals</h2> <p>While your budget should cover all your regular expenses--including things like tax and insurance bills that come just once or twice a year--there are things that you'll want to spend money on that aren't so regular. Still, except for emergences, most of the other things that you'll need cash for are nevertheless broadly predictable. You should have a plan for them, whether you structure it as part of your budget, or just as a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-your-wants">list of stuff you want</a>.</p> <p>A homeowner knows to expect (and gradually set aside money for) a new roof, furnace, air conditioner, appliances, carpets, repainting, and so on. Even though many of these expenses won't be incurred for ten or fifteen years, they're still expected. A car owner can include routine maintenance in the regular budget, but knows that an old car may need major repairs--and will in any case eventually need to be replaced. More broadly, everyone has things that they want--a vacation, a motorcycle, a musical instrument, a really good camera, a boat, the complete works of L.L. Zamenhof--that they're intending to get in the next few years.</p> <p>A few of these things may be medium- or even long- term goals--if you're not planning on buying them anytime soon. Roughly speaking, I'd call anything that you don't expect to spend any money on for 5 years a medium-term goal, and anything that you don't expect to spend any money on for 10 or more years a long-term goal.</p> <p>Money to support your medium- and long- term goals can be invested for the long term--in fact, much like you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">invest for other long-term goals</a>, such as retirement. For short-term goals, though, you should mostly stick to cash.</p> <h2>Emergencies</h2> <p>Your liquidity balances cover your expected cash needs from paycheck to paycheck. Your emergency fund covers any <strong>unexpected</strong> cash needs--either unusual expenses (the water heater goes out and needs to be replaced) or a drop in income (your employer cuts your hours or lays you off).</p> <p>The usual rule of thumb is that you should have 3 to 6 months expenses in your emergency fund. (For an analysis of why and a look at some special cases, see my post <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">Figuring the size of your emergency fund</a>.)</p> <h2>How to do it?</h2> <p>First, figure out how large your liquidity balance needs to be, and get that much money into your checking account. Then, each time you get paid, put enough money in the checking account to cover your budgeted expenses. If you find it more convenient to keep a larger liquidity balance, you can just put in an average amount each month (and then adjust once or twice a year). Or, if you prefer, you can figure out exactly how much your bills are going to be and pay in exactly that amount. Either way works fine.</p> <p>Second, top up your emergency fund. If your emergency fund is smaller than it ought to be--either because you had an emergency and spent some of it, or because it's never been as large as it should be--pay any surplus money you have after paying your bills into the emergency fund.</p> <p>Third, direct any remaining cash into whatever account you use to save for your short-term goals.</p> <p>That's really all there is to it. You can fund your longer-term goals at any point along the way:</p> <ul> <li>Before (through payroll deduction into your 401(k), for example),</li> <li>During (such as by sending money to a mutual fund at the same time you pay your bills),</li> <li>After (by accumulating savings until there's enough to buy 100 share of some stock you like).</li> </ul> <p>Pick <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-yourself-last-is-okay-too">any combination of those methods</a> that seems like it'd work for you. (Just don't pick none of them.)</p> <h2>Where to keep your cash</h2> <p>There's no need to get fancy about your short-term money. All you really need is a transaction account of some sort for paying your bills. If it pays a good rate (and you're the sort of person who can keep track and not spend money just because it's there), you could even keep your emergency fund and your short-terms savings there as well.</p> <p>Most people prefer to have separate savings accounts for their emergency fund and the savings that they're accumulating for specific goals. A savings account at your local bank is fine. An internet savings account may pay a better rate. A money market fund is also a good choice.</p> <p>To the extent that you know that you're not going to use the money for a period of time (college savings, for example) you can put the money into CDs or short-term bonds with a maturity date that matches when you're going to need the money.</p> <p>It may be worth it to allow a bit more complexity to creep in. For example, I keep half my emergency fund in my local bank and the other half in the form of two 6-month <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/treasury-bills-for-ordinary-folks">treasury bills</a> with maturity dates 3 months apart. As long as I have no emergencies (or only small emergencies), I roll over each treasury bill as it matures. If there's an emergency, all I have to do is <strong>nothing</strong> and each maturing bill will pay a quarter of my emergency fund directly into my checking account. (At the moment I'd probably earn a better rate with that money in CDs at my local bank, but the setup has been so convenient, I've left it alone for now.)</p> <p>I also recommend that you keep some amount of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">cash on hand in the form of actual banknotes</a>, even if you usually use credit or debit cards even for small purchases. There are some problems where the best solution is real cash money. Especially with interest rates as low as they are right now, there's no reason not to have some on hand. Think of it as part liquidity balance, part emergency fund.</p> <h2>It's still all your money</h2> <p>There are lots of reasons to divide your money up into multiple accounts--the retirement accounts have tax advantages, the mutual fund accounts give you access to specific investments, this or that bank's savings account pays a higher rate, and so on. The fact remains, though, that it's all your money: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-big-lump-theory-of-your-money">your entire portfolio is a single unified pool of assets that supports all of your goals</a>--retirement, buying a boat, paying tuition, your summer vacation, etc.</p> <p>Some people like to have a bunch of sub-accounts where they accumulate money toward specific short-term goals. I understand the inclination, but I suggest that you don't do this. Instead, choose where to save and invest based on the <strong>planned timeframe of the purchase</strong>. Your long-term goals should be supported by long-term investments like stocks and bonds, your medium-term goals with things like intermediate-term bonds, and your short-term goals with savings or short-term CDs. You really only need one savings account to save up the money for all the things you want to buy in the next year or two.</p> <p>It's worth thinking about it correctly right from the start for this reason: While it doesn't make much difference when you're dealing with short-term cash, understanding this is critical for managing your long-term investments, especially the ones in retirement accounts, which is the topic of my next post: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k"> Optimize your 401(k)</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-when-you-rely-on-cash-tips">How to Budget When You Rely on Cash Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-crash-course-in-offensive-budgeting">A Crash Course in Offensive Budgeting</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moments-that-should-be-on-everyones-bucket-list">8 Money Moments That Should Be On Everyone&#039;s Bucket List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting cash emergency emergency fund goals liquidity money money market money market funds savings savings account Tue, 28 Jul 2009 12:00:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 3429 at http://www.wisebread.com When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ambulance_0.jpg" alt="Emergency vehicle" title="Emergency Vehicle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the most common questions over on the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/forums/">Wise Bread forums</a> is some variation on, &quot;I have $X in savings but $Y in credit card debt. Should I use the savings to pay down the debt?&quot; The answer, of course, depends on your situation--and there's a reason why the question keeps showing up. Here's how to do the analysis.</p> <p>The first step toward answering this question is to ask another: <strong>do you have an emergency fund?</strong></p> <p>That's because figuring out the <em>cheapest</em> thing to do is easy--just compare interest rates. If your savings are earning you less than the cost of your debt, then you'll save money by paying off the debt. But that's only the right choice if you have an adequate emergency fund.</p> <p>Of course &quot;adequate&quot; is a tricky question for emergency funds. I've written a whole article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">figuring the size of your emergency fund</a> that breaks down the reasoning behind the rule of thumb that you want at least 3 and preferably 6 months spending in your emergency fund.</p> <p>For people with debt, though, the calculation changes. You still need at least a minimal emergency fund, simply to manage little glitches in cash flow (such as a payroll or banking hiccup that delays your direct deposit over a holiday weekend). But once you go beyond that minimum--maybe $1000, maybe one month's take-home pay--any extra emergency fund cash is probably costing you bunches in interest on your debt while earning almost nothing.</p> <p>A lot of people seem to think that having extra debt means they need to have extra in their emergency fund--so that they have cash to cover their debt payments during a period of unemployment. Sadly, I can't say that's definitely wrong: If you can't cover your minimum payments and start racking up late fees, those charges will totally swamp any interest payment savings.</p> <p>The analysis has to come down to your best guess on what the future might look like. My take is that getting the debt paid off sooner rather than later improves your situation so much that it's worth taking a small risk. After all, even a large emergency fund will go pretty quickly if it has to cover large debt service payments.</p> <p>So, my general advice is:</p> <ol> <li>Establish a small emergency fund--something like $1000 or 1 month's pay--to cover the ordinary cash-flow mismatches that always show up between income and outgo.</li> <li>Once that's done, aggressively pay down any debt (with the possible exception of long-term debt where the interest rate is both <em>low</em> and <em>fixed</em>, such as some mortgage and student loans).</li> <li>Once you're debt-free, bring your emergency fund up to the 3 to 6 months standard.</li> <li>Once you've got a healthy emergency fund, direct future money to investments. (Don't neglect <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/non-financial-investments">non-financial investments</a>, which will often return more than financial investments.)</li> </ol> <p>As I&nbsp;said, there's a reason the question shows up over and over again:&nbsp; There's no way to know the right answer. The more aggressively you pay down your debt, the cheaper it will be--unless you run your cash down so low that an interruption in your income means that you're unable to cover your debt service expenses. Since you can't know the future, any choice that you make will have to be based on your best sense of what the future may bring.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhen-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhen%2520to%2520Use%2520Savings%2520to%2520Pay%2520Off%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=When%20to%20Use%20Savings%20to%20Pay%20Off%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/When%20to%20Use%20Savings%20to%20Pay%20Off%20Debt.jpg" alt="When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt">10 Ways to Prevent an Emergency From Driving You Into Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund">11 Ways Life Is Amazing With an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management debt emergency emergency fund paying off reducing debt savings Fri, 10 Jul 2009 12:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 3368 at http://www.wisebread.com