Looking back over the past year, it is hard to think about how different life was in December of 2019 compared to December of 2020. One of the most important things that the pandemic has taught is that life has a way of throwing unanticipated curveballs. This is why it is imperative to set up safeguards to ensure you and your family are protected in an unexpected event. Whether it is protecting your health, your finances, or your family, there are some easy steps to take to help you to expect the unexpected and better prepare for these events.
Attend routine doctor appointments
One way to protect your physical and emotional health is to ensure that you are up to date on your routine doctor’s office visits. Taking the initiative to stay on top of these appointments ensures your overall wellbeing, making this an easy step to take in protecting yourself in the new year. Even though some people may not feel comfortable visiting a doctor’s office in person due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, many offices have implemented telemedicine appointments so you can discuss any health concerns you may have via video chat. This allows your doctor to determine whether or not further action needs to be taken.
Re-evaluate your life insurance coverage
While this topic may not be top of mind, ensuring that you have some type of life insurance coverage to protect your family and your assets in an unforeseen circumstance is an essential step in preparing for the unexpected. If you already have a life insurance policy, either through an employer or a private plan, take some time to evaluate whether or not the total amount of coverage is sufficient.
If you were to pass away, your life insurance policy provides your chosen beneficiaries with a designated lump sum of money to replace your lost income and either pay off debts, help to cover funeral expenses, or continue to pay for monthly obligations you may have. This is why it is essential to re-evaluate your policy every so often because your financial circumstances can change. For example, perhaps you have taken on new debt, purchased a home, or switched jobs, resulting in a need for more coverage. A goal to set in 2021 is to look into the best life insurance options for your family and obtain the necessary coverage or to ensure that your current coverage reflects your needs. Maintaining adequate life insurance coverage ensures that your family isn’t left financially defenseless if you were to unexpectedly pass away.
Set up an emergency fund
The past year has shown that life can change in the blink of an eye, making it more important than ever to have some kind of savings set aside. A good financial goal to work towards is to set aside three to six months of your income in a separate account to cover living expenses during an uncertain time such as moving or a job transition. Having a healthy savings account can protect you from going into debt if you were to lose some of your income or if you needed funds for an unanticipated expense. While it is difficult to immediately amass enough funds to cover a three to six month period of time, starting small is a major step. This can help pay for unexpected costs such as medical bills, home maintenance expenses, or a car repair without putting these costs on a high-interest credit card.
Ensure your important documents are easily accessible
A simple resolution to make in 2021 is to make sure you have access to your important documents. It can be overwhelming to receive a lot of mail and over time, your paper documents might get lost in the shuffle. Take some time in the upcoming year to ensure that documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, financial statements, and health documents are all in an easily accessible place. Getting organized and ensuring that your files are sorted accordingly can help save you time when you need one of these files, rather than scrambling through your papers that might be stored in different places throughout your home. You could also consider investing in a fireproof safe to keep your most important paperwork and small items protected from fire or water damage.
In preparing for the unexpected, remember not to overlook the importance of your relationships and how having a support system can help keep your family safe in unanticipated situations. Due to society becoming more mobile than generations past, you might not live in the same vicinity as your immediate family. Even if you do live around family members, it might not always be possible for them to provide backup care in an emergency. This is why it is important to foster relationships in your life that you can count on to help you in an unexpected event, whether it be neighbors, family, friends, or community members. For example, if your car were to break down or you needed a backup babysitter, it is important to have contacts that you can call on so you aren’t left unprepared.
Make sure you have enough supplies
In the early days of the pandemic, people were sent into a panic over lack of access to basic supplies. While it might not be necessary at this point to amass a large stockpile of items, it is still important to ensure that you have a reliable supply of food, paper goods, and medicines if you were unable to get to a store for an extended period of time. Natural disasters or medical ailments can leave you vulnerable. You can protect your family by having a backup of basic supplies in your home. A simple step to take this year is to make sure that you have enough items in your medicine cabinet. The last thing you want to do is run to the store when you or one of your family members is sick so make sure you are prepared ahead of time to help alleviate stress in the future.
While it’s impossible to predict what the future will bring, you can mitigate some of the stress and hardships that change causes by taking intentional steps to prepare for unanticipated events now. Take some time in 2021 to evaluate the ways you can prepare for the unexpected and keep you and your family safe and protected.