With hurricanes passing through the US more frequently and the number of wildfires seemingly increasing each year, you might have asked yourself a fundamental question: “are you ready?” Chances are you are not. Planning for the unexpected is not something that most people love to do or even would consider doing. Here is a range of unforeseen events and a starter for 10 to get your thinking about getting prepared.

What if your washing machine breaks down? Nowhere near the critical levels of a hurricane, but a washing machine seizing function can wreak havoc on the daily routine. Thinking of your washing machine, do you know if it’s still under warranty? Would you know an engineer to call to see if you can get it fixed? Would you even want an engineer to come out or has the machine come to the end of its commercial life cycle? And if you were to have to replace your machine, would you have the funds to do it? What about temporary solutions, could you wash your clothes at a laundromat or friends or family?

Photo by Ian Valerio on Unsplash

What if you get hit by a massive tax bill? First, don’t panic. The IRS is still an organization of humans trying to ensure you pay in what you are supposed to. Second, get organized. You can usually pay in installments (form 9456) but you will incur additional cost, plus the IRS can put a lien on your assets until the debt is paid off. In other cases, you will need to consider funds from somewhere else. If you own a home, you could take out a line of credit with your house as collateral. This so-called HELOC loans usually incur lower interest rates than credit cards and unsecured personal loans. Other possibilities are to sell any financial instruments you have been saving for the future, such as bonds and shares. The best line of defense, however, as with most financial obligations, is to make sure you have an emergency fund. Ideally, one where you have been putting in a portion of your earnings in anticipation of the tax bill.

What if you get into an accident that wasn’t your fault? Do you have your medical insurance sorted? Have you considered what your social safety net is, do you have family and friends nearby who can take care of the important things while you recover? And especially if it's not your fault, have you documented what happened and do you know who to call after an injury? Don’t let someone else’s mistake cripple you financially.

And what about the big one? A hurricane or other natural disaster? Could you pack up and leave your house in 5 minutes if needed? Are you keep abreast of anything in your area that could require you to evacuate or buckle down? And in the latter case, have you created ‘safe’ zones that would be suited in weathering through adversity? Think of torches, power, water, and food.

No one really wants to think the worst is going to happen, but at least run through a hypothetical scenario. At the very least you would have identified one thing you need to consider. And that one thing can make the difference between surviving or not, between coming out OK or financial ruin.