Cash is king after a natural disaster or similar emergency

Editor’s Note: This is an editorial article. An editorial, like a news article, is based on facts but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY – In an emergency or natural disaster, the money on hand can really make a difference when, after the dust settles, you’re tasked with keeping yourself and your family afloat.

Earthquakes, blizzards, a super drought, and wildfires are all possible (even likely) in Utah. Sudden job loss can happen anywhere. Whether emergency comes from Mother Nature in the form of a disaster or your household is hit with a sudden loss of income, the message is to prepare for the storms of life.

KSL NewsRadio partners with to offer advice and even personal experiences that show how you can prepare for what life can throw at you.

Here’s how to create a “disaster hideout”

It’s not just a story mission for me. It’s something I try to practice in my own life. So, in an effort to improve and stay current with current information, I reached out to spokesman Wade Mathews of the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management. He offered ideas and advice on how to prepare now for a possible emergency later.

Here are the basic steps to creating an emergency fund.

Have cash readily available. The recommended minimum is $200 in quick cash to keep on hand. And have more money if you can. And remember, it’s not in your bank account, it’s in your disaster/emergency kit. Keep it there so it’s easy to access if you find yourself displaced from your home.

This next part is very important: make sure your cash on hand is divided into a variety of smaller bills. Why? Let’s say you are moved in an emergency. You go buy a granola bar for two dollars and you change. If you only have twenty dollar bills, you run the risk of not receiving your change, especially if the exchange is blocked at the time of purchase.

This granola bar is only $20 instead, and you just lost $17 and change.

So you only have cash or cash for emergencies? No. Also, have enough money to cover one month’s expenses in your savings or checking account. Again, save more if you can. This one-month supply should be enough to cover your mortgage or rent, utilities, and any other necessary expenses that you would normally spend from your household budget.

Tips for saving or where to find that extra money

We all have our ways of saving. What works for one may not work for another. Do what works best for you, but just do something and start now. Here is what I did.

Take $20 from every paycheck, every payday. Go to a bank or wherever you can get cash (perhaps your grocery store still lets you get cash back above the total price of your order) and ask for twenty $1 bills. The next payday, get that $20 in $5 increments, then in $10 increments, and so on.

Work at home

Working from home may have freed up some money in your budget. For example, it costs me about $60-65 a week for a tank of gas. If I was working from home, my gas budget is the first place I would look to see if funds may now be available that weren’t before. Due to rising gas prices, if you work from home, you may see a dramatic increase.

The same goes for any expenses you no longer have while working from home. Money you may have spent on eating out, buying your morning coffee or green drink, or buying career clothes can now go into your emergency fund.

A close look at your past outgoing expenses may pleasantly surprise you if you are now in a home office!

unexpected income

Unexpected income awaits you? Put it away. Plan to use the extra money in the form of tax refunds, work bonuses and gifts as a potential source of savings. It’s an easy way to accumulate money until you reach your goal, and there will be no money coming directly from your own accounts.

Ask the! (Really!)

If you have a birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or other gift giving opportunity coming up and someone asks you, “What would you like?” What can we offer you this year? ” do not be shy. Many parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones understand the need to save and are ready to help you reach your goals.

Sacrifice regularly

Yeah. Sacrifice something small on a regular basis. For example, take what you would spend on a dinner out, a morning coffee and donut run, or a night at the movies and put it in your “money stash.” Do this a few times a month and you’ll see your emergency savings grow steadily.

Experience is the best teacher

In my own experience, I’ve had a few times where dipping into my emergency money saved me from awkward situations that not only helped me but sometimes also helped others.

Once at a store pharmacy, a severe electrical storm had knocked out power to the area and the store was barely operational. I was at the pharmacy counter when I was told that no debit/credit cards could be used due to the power outage, just “cash only” for transactions.

How many people carry a lot of cash on them these days? Not me.

I had to think fast because I didn’t have enough money to cover the cost. So I asked about an almost forgotten legal currency. “Can you accept a personal check?” ” Yes! I would have my prescription and I would leave. But it didn’t stop there. This question sparked a unique situation as the client behind me quickly called home asking, “Honey, do we still have a checkbook in the office? Do you want to overwrite it? It was a simple solution once found and as a result two families received the medicine they needed that day.

Gift cards

Yes, gift cards are conveniently packaged in my Disaster Kit. It’s a personal choice. Since we’re encouraged to make our emergency kits based on our own family’s needs, I keep a few on hand and treat them as an alternate offer in addition to the $200 quick cash.

To be clear, “Cash Is King”. The gift cards in my kit will always be a “supplement” and not a “substitute” for cash.

And not just any gift cards either. I choose gift cards suited to my tastes and needs. Typically, I select cards for nearby businesses and national chains such as Little Caesars, Harmon’s Grocery, Amazon, and Wal-Mart. Why? So I can keep my “disaster cash” as long as possible. Depending on the type of emergency, if these businesses are able to accept cards, I can easily feed a few people with a pizza gift card or get a few necessities online or at big box stores.

It’s a wrap

Finally, some guidelines from Mathews and myself to encourage anyone working on emergency funds. Debt and procrastination can be enemies of saving. The Great Recession of 2008 taught us hard lessons about living beyond our means. Yet today’s inflation makes many purchases and basic living expenses difficult for many families.

But despite all this, we all still need our emergency money. Follow these final tips:

  1. Don’t get overwhelmed!
  2. Have a plan with goals and work to deliberately execute that plan. And get the whole family involved.
  3. Something is better than nothing, even if it means setting aside a little money on each salary or all at once. Just start doing something now without delay.
  4. Remember, slow and steady wins the race “IF” you stay on track. Consistency is really key to seeing the $200 quick cash and one month emergency funds grow.

And Mathews shares this information from FEMA on financial preparedness:

“Access to financial resources has proven to be a good predictor of a person’s ability to cope with the consequences of a disaster. However, about 40% of Americans do not have enough cash savings to cover a sudden, unexpected expense. In such circumstances, moving to a hotel for a few days, buying cleaning supplies, or replacing food and medicine may be out of reach in the absence of outside help, forcing individuals and families into debt which prove disastrous in themselves. .”

The bottom line? You are responsible for yourself and your family in an emergency, not the government. For more information on all things readiness, head to the website or find them on YouTube for quick tutorials.