How to Protect Yourself from a Financial Emergency

By Deborah Nayrocker

Dear Deborah: What can I do to prepare for the financial impact of electrical power outages? During the past year I’ve become more aware how severe storms like snowstorms, rainstorms (causing flooding) and hurricanes cause power grid outages for weeks. Since we are becoming more of a cashless society, how can I prepare when we have power disruptions? – A Concerned Reader

Answer: We’ve seen recently how severe weather can create power outages for weeks at a time. It causes major disruptions for people dependent on uninterrupted power usage.

To be more ready for these unpleasant realities, here are two important things we can do:

  1. Have adequate cash on hand.

Before the New Year 2000, it was highly recommended to withdraw in cash at least two weeks’ spending money, in case the ATMs were temporarily inaccessible.

If power grids are down for a considerable length of time, affecting multiple systems, this would affect financial services and banking transfers.

ATM cards, debit or credit cards could stop working. Banks could remain closed for an undetermined amount of time. It’s important to have some cash that’s accessible.

  1. Keep paper records of online payments. 

To minimize the negative impact of major disruptions in telecommunications, keep paper records of payments made. Be able to prove you’ve made payments.

More people are making regular payments online. These include mortgage, car, and utility payments. Have hard copies of invoices or statements showing proof of payment.

Keep records of recent statements of bank balances and investments for proof of ownership.


Deborah Nayrocker is an author and columnist. She is the award-winning author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life.

Copyright by Deborah J. Nayrocker. All rights reserved.


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