The thing with economic catastrophes is that you rarely if ever see them coming. Whether you survive the financial fallout and bounce back debt-free is heavily dependent on how prepared you were initially. Though your sudden spike in expenses may have been impossible to predict or control, taking steps to ensure you’re prepared for whatever life may throw at you will increase your chances of emerging unscathed. The following tips can help you do just that:
1. Know your emergency resources
A financial sucker punch can strike at any time, so it’s worth doing some research now to identify a list of resources should you be caught out. Knowing your options if you can’t pay a bill on time and to whom you can turn for financial advice or small low-interest loans is invaluable when a crisis hits. Trying to figure these things out when you’re already stressed and anxious can cause you to make rash decisions that land you in even more trouble.
2. Dissolve your debt
Think of your current financial situation as your immune system and potential monetary emergencies as viruses. If your financial immune system is already compromised by debt, you won’t have the resources to fight off any money-sucking viruses.
Give your accounts a full medical checkup. While you need to ensure you’re covering all your budget essentials, cut any unnecessary expenses and throw whatever funds you can at getting rid of your existing debt. If your loans and credit card balances are at levels that have you feeling overwhelmed, be proactive and speak with a financial counselor about how to get out of debt, and implement strategies immediately.
3. Build your savings
Being debt-free isn’t a sign that you can start over-indulging in unnecessary expenses. While you may be tempted to loosen up a little and reward yourself, your main focus should be on redirecting the money you were using to pay off your debts into a high-interest savings account.
This will become your emergency fund – the next layer to your financial immune system. Once you have at least three months’ worth of living expenses tucked away, you can shift your attention to investment opportunities.
4. Create extra income streams
Nowadays, having just one source of income is considered by experts to be a financial risk. While your job may feel cushy and secure, an industry-shaking event (like the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008) can change that overnight.
To protect yourself, it’s worth setting up side hustles and (even better) passive income streams to ensure you’ve got backup should something unexpected occur. As a bonus, figuring out how to turn your skills, passions, or talents into viable money earners can be both entertaining and personally enriching. In fact, many people end up turning their side hustles into a full-time business.
5. Ensure your insurance is up-to-date
There seems to be an unwritten law of the universe that if something is going to go wrong, it will happen just after the warranty has expired or insurance policy lapsed. Using a calendar synced to your phone and computer, set reminders for when you need to re-evaluate your insurance policies. Take the time to ensure you’re getting the best deal on the market and then either make your next payment or switch to another provider.
The key to surviving an economic catastrophe is to have a strong financial immune system before it strikes. While it does take a bit of research, expense-cutting, work, and preparation, the sense of calm you’ll have knowing you’re prepared for the unexpected is priceless.