A reader doesn't want to spend money repairing his home after a natural disaster.
Question: So Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma trashed two of our biggest states. Wildfires are doing the same in California, which is our biggest state. Last winter, there were blizzards where I lived that killed people.
Every time there’s a big natural disaster, the news shows homes that are destroyed. I hope these people had insurance, but even if they did, the deductibles are sky-high. My homeowner’s insurance deductible is $10,000 because I can’t afford any less than that.
I’m a computer programmer who works remotely. So I can work anywhere. I want to live somewhere where I don’t have to spend a lot of money fixing up after Mother Nature gets mad. Any ideas?
— Mac in Vermont
Howard Dvorkin answers…
Natural disasters are one of the leading causes of catastrophic debt. The others are divorce, illness, and accidents. If they all have one thing in common, it’s this: They can happen to anyone at anytime.
As a financial counselor for more than two decades, I’ve spoken with Americans who have been wiped out in natural disasters all around the country. So I had the same question you did, Mac. I asked Debt.com researchers to answer it.
They came up with this animated map…
As you can see, there’s really no place safe from hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods, avalanches, mud slides, and sinkholes. Any of these can destroy a home.
Even if you could find such a place, you might end up paying more to live there in other ways. Debt.com has written about the most expensive ZIP codes in every state in the nation, and if one of them should have no natural disasters, you may not come out ahead.
Better than trying to avoid natural disasters is preparing for them. While the federal government has helpful information on how to physically get ready for each type of disaster — see Prepare for Disasters and Emergencies — preparing financially is much simpler.
Basically, you need an emergency fund. Ideally, it should have three months of living expenses. Realistically, that’s not possible in a nation where the total credit debt is nearly $1 trillion. That’s $16,245 per cardholder.
That’s why Debt.com ran this brazen, definitive headline earlier this year: None of Us Are Ready for an Emergency.
Mac, I don’t know what your debt situation is, but if you don’t have cash laying around to create an emergency fund, read this: How to Prepare for and Deal With an Income Emergency.
Finally, let me talk you off the ledge. Financial counselors like me talk so seriously about all debt disasters because we want Americans to be prepared. Perhaps we’re trying to scare them into action. However, we don’t want to paralyze you, either.
The statistical odds of your home being wiped out by a natural disaster are slim. More likely is some damage at some point during your life. So don’t give up by telling yourself, “I’ll never save three months of living expenses, so why bother?”
Anything you sock away for later can help you ease a debt disaster. If you start now, by the time bad luck catches up to you, it won’t keep you down for long.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.
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Article last modified on October 10, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC .