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Avoid Financial Disaster with Good Planning

It's tough to get by financially in today's fast-paced life. With mortgages, car notes and massive amounts of credit card debt, most people struggle to get by from month to month. With most people doing what they can just to pay their bills, few people are prepared for the unlikely event of a financial disaster. They come in many forms; a storm like Hurricane Katrina, a loss of job, or a sudden illness can break anyone who isn't prepared for an unexpected interruption in their financial life. But it isn't all that difficult to make preparations that will help you in times of a money crisis. All it takes is a bit of planning ahead of time.

Here are a few things that will help you be prepared for the unexpected:

Get an ATM/Debit card - You may not regularly use cash or have a need for a debit card, but there are some circumstances where it may be necessary. People from New Orleans who were temporarily displaced by Hurricane Katrina would have benefited from having access to cash even while away from home. If you don't use one regularly, get one anyway and keep it in a safe place.

Sign up for direct deposit - With direct deposit, you will know that your paycheck will be in your bank account even if you cannot, for whatever reason, physically get to your bank. This will help you in the event of illness or natural disaster that may have your local bank temporarily closed.

Sign up for online bill paying - You can pay bills even if you aren't at home via the Internet. You don't have to use the service, but it may come in handy at a time when you least expect it.

Save some emergency cash - Financial experts recommend that you save at least three months' worth of financial expenses. That's difficult, but every little bit can help. Try to cut back on a few unnecessary items, such as that tall latte you buy every day. It adds up, and you never know when you may need to access that emergency cash.

Set up a home equity line of credit - Unlike a home equity loan, which provides you with a lump sum of cash right away, a home equity line of credit provides you with cash that you can use a little at a time, and only when you need it. If you don't actually take any money out, you don't have monthly payments. But if an emergency strikes, you'll have cash available. This can be particularly helpful if you find yourself out of work for a short period of time. Your bank won't lend you money when you are out of work, so plan ahead of time and the money will be ready when you are.

A little bit of planning can go a long way when a financial emergency strikes. If you plan for it now, you will have fewer worries later.

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