How To Access Your Money Wherever & Whenever You Need It
A firefighter knocks on your door. You open it and he tells you that there’s an emergency in the neighborhood affecting your home and that have only 10 minutes to evacuate. Now. And chances are, you won’t be able to set foot in your home for three or more days.
How much money would you need to take care of yourself and your family until you get back home?
Five hundred dollars?
Do you have that much cash in the house? And even if you do, is it really safe to carry that much cash around with you during a disaster? Considering the chaos we always see preceding a hurricane or following an earthquake, the answer is definitely not.
Then what you really need is a certain amount of cash and access to your money.
Let’s find out how much you would need to take care of your family…
Grab a pencil and paper and answer the following questions.
If you needed to leave your area due to a disaster evacuation, could you still access your money in a different neighborhood? A different city? A different state?
Do you know how much money you can take out of your primary bank’s ATM at one location? During one 24 hour period?
If you could only use the cash you have in your home for one to three weeks, how much cash would you and your family need?
Do you know how much credit you have available on your credit cards? Do you know if it’s possible to get an emergency increase? If so, do you know how to get one?
If there was a disaster in your geographical area that affected your home as well as your workplace, would you still receive a paycheck from your company? Do you receive you check via direct deposit, via mail or do you physically pick it up?
Well how did you do? If you’re like most people, you were scratching your head by the second question and running for your statements and your calculator by the third.
Here are a few recommendations to make sure that you can access your money, any time and any place that you need it. Oh and if you need it, here is a great rule of thumb for figure out how much money you need to get your family through the first week or two of an evacuation.
Bank Accounts/Access to Cash
Have at least one bank account or credit union account that gives you nationwide access to your money. If it’s not your primary account, make sure that you use the ATM card or make a deposit occasionally to keep it active.
Know how much you and your family would most likely need for up to five days and then up to three weeks, without access to your local bank.
If you live in a disaster prone area, consider keeping a certain amount of cash ($200-400), in a safe at home or in your evacuation location. What you usually spend on groceries, the drug store at least one or two urgent care visit co-payments + 25% to give you breathing room. An easy way to save the money, is to put away a certain amount every week, like $20, until you meet your goal.
Know how much you can take out of the bank per ATM and per day.
Place a copy of a bank statement/check from each bank account and copies of your credit cards and debit cards (front and back) on a password protected flash drive in your emergency bin, in your safe deposit box and in a safe deposit box in your evacuation location.
If you find that you wouldn’t be able to function with the limits placed on you by your current bank or credit card, consider opening up another account at a large nationwide bank so that you will have access to your accounts and the services you need 24/7. We’re not suggesting that you have to leave your old neighborhood bank. Just put enough money in a new account to maintain the minimum balance and so you’ll have access to what you need, when you need it. And be sure to use the ATM card or make a deposit every now and then, so it remains open.
Know what your credit limit is and the customer service number you would have to call to temporarily raise it. Make sure that you note those limits, customer service numbers and any rules or guidelines on your Vital Information Grab It & Go Form.
If you have two or more credit cards, make sure you have at least two that are different brands. For example a Visa or a MasterCard, along with an American Express or Discover card. That way if one is not accepted at a store or restaurant, the other one probably will be.
The most important part of this exercise is:
Knowing how much money you need to have at your fingertips
Where to keep it, so that you can access even more money quickly and easily.
When you chose your current bank, you probably considered things like their good interest rates, proximity to your home or their friendly tellers.
Making sure that you had 24/7 access to your money in an emergency, wherever you are, probably wasn’t in your top ten criteria. Unfortunately good interest rates and friendly tellers aren’t going to help you feed your children and fill up your gas tank in an unfamiliar town.
Fortunately technology is on your side. Most major brick and mortar and online banks give you access to your money wherever you are in the country. With them, you can bank online, transfer money between accounts or to other people, and even deposit checks into an ATM which can be a huge selling point if that paycheck you’re holding is going to help you exist for the coming week. Another perq is nationwide access to ATMs nationwide or fee rebates if you have to use another bank’s ATM. With a debit card, you can even make purchases or get cash back without a fee, if you can’t find an ATM.
By the way, it doesn’t take a natural disaster for you to need immediate access to your money. What about a medical emergency? You’re in the emergency room and need cash, but the hospital only has one ATM, and it’s not for your bank. Or your car could break down a hundred miles away from home. Or, as we’ve all learned the last several years, banks can be taken over by federal regulators, severely limiting depositor access for days or weeks.
So the moral of the story? Actually we have two.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
2. Make sure you have baskets every place you need them.
Keep these two things in mind when managing your money, and you’ll be in 95% better shape than your friends. But do me a favor. Once you have things set up for yourself, share what you’ve learned. Your friends will thank you for it.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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