Preparing Your Finances for a Flood, Fire, or other Disaster: Having a Plan

Without warning, a flood, fire or other disaster could leave you with a severely damaged home, destroyed belongings and barriers to managing your finances.  Many people think of disaster preparedness as having a stockpile of water, canned food, and flashlights, but people also need access to cash and financial services.  That’s why it is important to include financial preparedness in your disaster plans.  Here is the latest summary of important preparations.

You should have enough insurance to cover the cost to replace or repair your home, car and other valuable property, as well as temporary housing if you are displaced from your home.  Those who do not own a home should have renters insurance.  Also, make sure that you have the right coverage for the types of disasters likely to occur in your area.  For example, homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover events such as flooding or earthquakes, so you may want to consider whether you need additional coverage.

  • Periodically review your insurance coverage
  • Build and maintain an emergency savings fund
  • Sign up for direct deposit of your paycheck or government benefits
  • Gather and organize important documents

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to prepare a household inventory with a description and the value of belongings.
  • Help students understand that renter’s insurance is important for the protection it provides for their personal property.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can you protect yourself from flood, fire or other natural disasters?
  2. Should you consider purchasing flood-related insurance if you don’t live in a coastal area? Why or why not?
  3. Why is it important to gather and organize important documents before a disaster strikes?

Trick yourself into saving

Saving money can be automatic with some simple actions that would reduce your monthly spending.  Some actions, which can include lowering your monthly cash outflows by as much as $400, include:

 

  • Using a programmable thermostat which can be used to automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home, resulting in energy savings.
  • Increasing insurance deductibles for your home and auto insurance which will likely result in an annual savings of several hundred dollars.
  • Practicing less aggressive driving; using a constant speed can save money on fuel costs.
  • Seeking out ways to reduce your communication bills, such as using basic cable along with streaming video on your computer. Also, using a free texting app on your phone.
  • Using a refillable water bottle can save hundreds of dollars by not buying bottled water.

 

To ensure that you actually save this money, each month, have funds automatically moved into a savings account or investment program.

For additional information on saving, go to:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/video/saving-money/trick-yourself-into-saving.aspx#ixzz3IKDG71pN

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students conduct online research to determine various actions to reduce spending and increase savings.
  • Have students interview several people to determine various actions that might be considered for reducing spending.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions have you taken to reduce spending and increase savings?
  2. Explain short-term and long-term benefits of reduced spending.

 

 

Medicare & You 2015: What’s Important in 2015?

In September 2014, millions of Americans received a 152-page booklet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called Medicare & You 2015.  It doesn’t have much of a plot, but it might be the most important reading for seniors or their adult children.  Here is what’s important in 2015:

  • Stay healthy with Medicare-covered preventive services. Medicare pays for many services that can prevent or detect health problems early when they are easier to treat.  Ask your health care provider what services you need.
  • Keep track of your personal health information. Access your personal health information using Medicare’s Blue Button.  This information can help you make more informed decisions about your care and can give your healthcare providers a more complete view of your health history.
  • Continue to get help in the prescription drug coverage gap. If you reach the coverage gap in your Medicare prescription drug coverage, you’ll quality for some savings on generic and brand-name drugs.
  • Find out what you pay for Medicare (Part A and Part B). The 2015 Medicare premium and deductible amounts were not available at the time of printing.  To get most up-to-date cost information, call 1-800-Medicare.

For additional information go to

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to choose a current issue of Money, Consumer Reports, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and summarize an article that updates Medicare’s programs for 2015.
  • Ask student where they can find other ways to get Medicare information and compare the quality of plans and health care providers.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors should senior citizens consider in making the choice among various types of Medicare, medigap, or HMO health care insurance policies?
  2. What services are not covered by Medicare?

How Healthy is Your Insurance Company?

When buying home, health, auto or rental insurance, you should find out if your state insurance department offers any information about insurance companies and rates.  Check several sources for the best rate and get quotes online.  Consult an independent insurance agent who represents several insurers in your area to get a better deal.

 Before purchasing insurance, be sure the insurance company is licensed and covered by the state’s guaranty fund.  The fund pays claims if the company defaults.  Your state insurance department can provide this information.

Research the complaint record of the company.  Contact your state insurance department, or visit the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (www.naic.org), which maintains a database of complaints filed with state regulators.  Finally check the financial stability of the insurance company.

For additional information and guidance visit the following websites:

http://www.ambest.com, http://www.standardandpoors.com, and http://www.moodys.com

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to contact state insurance department before purchasing insurance?
  2. How can an independent insurance agent provide a better insurance rate?
  3. Why is an insurance company’s financial stability important?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the websites to

*  Have students visit the various websites in this blog and then prepare a short summary of their findings.

*  explore a few advantages of purchasing insurance from an independent insurance agent?