How to Prepare Emergency Money Under Any Circumstance

September is National Preparedness Month

Every year, September is designated as National Preparedness Month. This year the month has special significance because we are going through some particularly devastating economic challenges: Hurricane Ida on the East Coast and relentless wildfires on the West Coast.

Uncontrollable events such as these remind us how crucial it is to always be prepared in the event of a natural disaster or any other kind of unexpected disaster.

We focus on helping people become financially ready for emergency situations. Many resources are available to assist you with your preparation. Check out the good information at the official National Preparedness Month site to start your planning.

This year, the theme for the month is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” Each week of the month has a special focus:

Week 1: Make a Plan

September 1st – 4th

This involves communicating with your friends and family about what to do if an emergency should strike. Where will you gather? Where will you shelter in place if necessary? If evacuation is necessary, what route will you take?

Financially, preparedness will include knowing what all of your monthly obligations are, and how you’re paying them. Have a plan prepared in advance for what you’re going to do about your regular bills in case of an emergency, so you have a simple list of steps to follow when circumstances become difficult. Make a list you can follow to pause any automatic payments in the event of an emergency. If you’re paying more than the minimum toward any of your debts, reduce those payments for the duration of the emergency, then return to normal, higher payments when the situation has passed.

Week 2: Build a Kit

September 5th – 11th

For week two, the focus is on building an emergency kit. Check out this basic disaster supplies kit to make sure you are prepared:

Financially, it’s important to gather your necessary financial documents and keep them in an accessible place in case of a major natural disaster. Include vital health information, and a printed contact list (these days, we all have our contacts stored in our phones, but you can’t count on electricity during a disaster, so a printed backup list of the most important numbers is necessary).

FEMA and Operation Hope collaborated on an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit that has a good checklist of important information to compile for your financial emergency kit.

Week 3: Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness

September 12th – 18th

Know what kind of natural disasters could affect your area and know how to get emergency alerts in case the worst-case scenario happens.

Come up with a plan for different disaster scenarios that could affect you: your response to a hurricane or tornado will be different from your response to a house fire.

You’ll also want to be sure you have all the necessary insurance policies to help you in the event of a disaster. If you live in an area prone to flooding, look into the National Flood Insurance Program through

Related: Dealing with Debt After a Natural Disaster

Week 4: Teach Youth About Preparedness

September 19th – 25th

Does all of this talk of preparedness sound like a lot of work? Are you concerned that you haven’t created a plan, or safety kit to protect you and your family from different kinds of disasters? Having a discussion with your kids and loved ones will make planning easier and help everyone involved avoid dangerous situation both now and in the future.

Use free resources online to teach your kids about disasters and how to be prepared. Make this preparedness a life-long habit so they’ll never find themselves flat-footed in the face of a crisis.

Setting up a dedicated savings or emergency fund is one essential way to protect yourself. For tips and encouragement toward saving for an emergency, check out America Saves. Take the pledge to save with whatever strategy works for you. Plus, get reminders, resources, and tips to stay on track!

If you’re already finding yourself struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic or any other unexpected situation, we are here to help. Contact us today for free, confidential coaching and expert advice.

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About The Author

Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovative ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda joined in 2003 and has over two decades of experience in the industry.