Safeguard Your Finances
We’ve all been there – the hurricane evacuation announcement has been made and it’s time to act. The next few hours are crucial for your family, your home, and your peace of mind. We’ve learned in the last several months what we’d do differently for the next hurricane. “We won’t know what our home and community will look like after a storm, but we can do our best to safeguard what we can – like our finances – to ensure that the aftermath is more manageable,” said Lisa Ledano, Branch Supervisor of the First Federal Bank Nelson Branch.
Before a Hurricane is in the Gulf
Start an emergency fund. Build up an emergency fund throughout the year, and it can help later when you are waiting on insurance reimbursements. These savings can help cover expenses that accumulate during an evacuation like hotel rooms, gas, and food.
Go digital. Sign up for eStatements and enroll in online and mobile banking with your bank. “eStatements are more secure and easier to access than paper statements, especially if there is a disruption in mail service or if you can’t return to your home immediately after a storm,” said Ledano. Mobile and online banking are essential for keeping track of expenses and transferring money. Your digital wallet, like Google PayTM, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay®, makes it easy to pay on-the-go from your phone.
Have an emergency credit card. Using a credit card during an evacuation is a great way to avoid draining your cash and stay protected from fraud. Be sure to keep this card away from your wallet during other times of the year or else you may be tempted to use it.
Review and protect your financial files. Don’t wait until the evacuation to read your homeowners insurance policy in your stack of important papers. Take the time to organize your files in a waterproof and fireproof case that’s easily accessible. “Most people don’t know the details of their insurance policies until they have to make a claim,” Ledano commented. “Take time to review your policies with your insurance agent to ensure you are properly covered.”
When a Hurricane is in the Gulf
Have cash on hand. “We all know people who wait until they evacuate to get cash then find themselves in line for hours at their bank,” noted Ledano. When a hurricane begins to form, it’s a good time to get the cash you need for immediate and unexpected needs. Check your bank’s operational hours during a storm to make sure you don’t miss your window for accessing your money.
Handle urgent financial issues. If you have a loan payment coming up, contact your bank to see due date extensions or refunds for late fees due to the hurricane. Check your cards and accounts to make sure everything is up-to-date and you don’t have any problems accessing your money. “No one wants to be across the state calling customer service in a hotel parking lot because your new card hasn’t been activated yet,” said Ledano.
Stay in contact with your bank. “If you bank local, chances are your bank is also keeping an eye on the storm, so they’ll understand your worries,” said Ledano. Find out if your bank plans on closing or if other services will be suspended during an evacuation. Also, notify your bank if you plan on evacuating so they can put a travel notice on your debit cards.
For more tips on keeping your finances protected, contact First Federal Bank at (337) 433-3611 or visit www.ffbla.bank. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.