Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preparedness 2010 - Part 1

This is the seventh annual National Preparedness Month.

One of the lessons of last winter was how important it is to be prepared for ice storms.

With power lines down, local officials asked residents to shelter in place because the iced-over streets were too dangerous for people to make their ways to the community shelters.

I was fortunate in that where I was lost power for only two hours.

Some neighborhoods went without electricity for a week and a half while rural areas between towns didn't get service restored for up to two months.

That meant, of course, that motels filled up and most guests stayed far longer than the 72 hours minimum for which we are supposed to be prepared making finances for lodging and meals the primary concern.

I'm thinking the simplest way for a family to save up the funds is to shave off a few days from the annual family vacation for two to three years and set the saved money aside for emergency lodging.

For those who vacation at home or restrict their traveling to day trips, it isn't that simple. They'll have to figure out another method to squirrel money away that works for them.

One friend, for example, returned home at the end of each day and emptied all the coins that accumulated in his pocket during the day into various big glass jars and piggy banks he kept.

That way, he managed to save up about $300 per year without feeling like he was depriving himself. The trick is that he always paid with paper money, never coins received as change from a prior purchase.

Another method might be getting cash back while paying for shopping with check or credit card and stashing into the emergency fund the extra $5, $10, $20, or whatever amount that won't be missed.

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