I get various press releases and story ideas in my inbox each day, many of them not too interesting. I was intrigued recently, though, to receive some financial disaster preparation tips because they came from NACHA, a nonprofit association that represents more than 11,000 financial institutions and focuses on electronic payments. What does that have to do with financial disasters? Keep reading.

First, check out a couple of NACHA's tips because they make good sense:

  • Copy the contents of your wallet, including the fronts and backs of all credit cards. Keep the copies with a trusted party who doesn't live in your home, or keep them in your safe deposit box.
  • Prepare a 'to-go' waterproof and fireproof box that you can grab in an emergency. Include all family and friend contact info and addresses, recent account statements, a financial contact list, mortgage and insurance statements, and a small supply of cash.

So far, so good, right? Well, here comes the electronic payments part: Sign up for electronic payments of important recurring bills, such as your mortgage, health insurance, etc. Sign up for online access to your bank and brokerage accounts. Get your paycheck deposited directly. Get an ATM card, so that if you end up out of town during an emergency, you can withdraw cash.

Those steps might seem more onerous, but they can be worth it. The folks at NACHA point out that if, as an extreme example, you're quarantined due to bird flu, you'll be able to manage your finances from home.

Protect your money
Here are two more considerations I'd suggest:

  • Have sufficient insurance. If your home burns down or your neighborhood is flooded, you don't want to find out that your policy doesn't cover floods, or that it doesn't provide enough money to rebuild your home. Learn more in our Insurance Center.
  • Have an emergency fund. Ideally, you should have easily accessible funds to cover several months' worth of living expenses. Learn more in our Savings Center about how much to save and how to invest money for the short term.

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