Accountants Say Personal Insurance Policies Should Be Part of Rainy Day Supplement

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

Many people plan for anticipated expenses, such as paying for college and saving for retirement. Yet, when unexpected financial emergencies occur, consumers often find themselves unprepared. The fact is a job loss, serious illness, divorce or natural disaster can happen to anyone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare for a financial crisis, according to the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Establishing an emergency fund and adequate insurance top the list of preparedness for personal financial emergencies.

CPAs generally recommend that you set aside money each month to build up a cash reserve equal to three to nine months of living expenses. To some extent, the size of your emergency fund depends on your financial circumstances. If you are married and both you and your spouse work, you may be able to get by with the lesser amount.

Having adequate insurance and substantial investments may also lessen the need for a large emergency fund. Regardless of size, the funds should be easy to access. A money market or savings account are good choices for easy access.

Develop an emergency budget that shows the expenses you could cut and the minimum amount of income you would need to get by in a financial emergency. Also, think about ways you can increase income. For example, taking a second job, renting out a room in your home or turning a hobby into a business are alternatives to increase the cash flow.

Insurance is one of the best ways to protect you and your family, according to the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs. Many people have life, medical and homeowner’s insurance, but disability insurance, personal liability insurance and long-term care insurance also can be assets in personal emergencies.

Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you can’t work because of a disabling injury or illness. Personal liability insurance increases your protection beyond the basic levels provided under your homeowners and auto insurance policies. Personal liability insurance also covers some losses not typically covered by standard policies, such as libel and slander.

If you’re a homeowner, you should consider establishing a line of credit as a possible source of funds. It’s best to do this now as a precautionary measure. If you wait until you face a crisis, it may be difficult to qualify, particularly if you have lost your job.

With a home equity line of credit, you can tap into your home’s equity to meet emergency financial needs. You borrow as much or as little as you need, up to your pre-determined limit. Home equity lines of credit have a number of advantages over other borrowing options. First, they tend to carry lower interest rates, and you pay interest only on the amount you use. In most cases, the interest you pay on up to $100,000 of home equity debt is tax-deductible. However, be aware of the potential consequences. Should you default on payments, you run the risk of losing your home.

Take the time now to collect and organize important personal information that you may need in the event of death, fire, theft or other emergency. Be sure that other family members know where to find bank account and PIN numbers, safe deposit box keys, insurance policies and contact information for your attorney, CPA and other professional advisors.

The Wisconsin Institute of CPAs is a professional organization for Wisconsin CPAs, with more than 8,200 members in public accounting, industry, government and education.

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