The patterns are so familiar; after the warnings of an impending storm are broadcast, people rush to prepare. They jam the stores to buy food, batteries, flashlights, generators, shovels, candles, and whatever other supplies they feel are needed to survive the coming bad weather.
Wherever you live, there is bad weather that is predictable. It may be hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, droughts, blizzards, or ice storms. You may not know exactly when or where, but you know from past experience the inevitability of storms.
There are people who plan ahead. They know what each season can bring. They always have enough of the essential emergency supplies on hand so they don’t worry about being caught unprepared.
In addition to being prepared for an unexpected storm, you should also be prepared for other unexpected events. As much as you plan for what you want, encountering the unforeseen is inevitable.
Money is an important asset in your preparation. Having secure, readily available savings gives you the ability to endure financial downturns or emergencies. In an economic sense, money buys you freedom and time.
Surveys have found that more than 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in emergency savings. This is an alarming statistic that means tens of millions of people don’t have the financial means to get through even minor unexpected challenges.
The secret to building up your savings is to pay yourself first. This takes discipline and consistency. Every time you get paid, try to put at least 10 percent aside for your emergency fund. If you can’t manage 10 percent , put away whatever you can.
You want to pay yourself before you spend on any discretionary purchases. It’s easy to make excuses to avoid putting money aside. Don’t do it. Get into the habit of contributing to your emergency funds. The whole point of being prepared is that you are OK when circumstances change without notice.
What are some potential unforeseen economic issues? Loss of a job, house repairs, car repairs, medical expenses, appliance repairs, or any increase in monthly expenses for necessities.
The need for emergency savings is not dependent on your income level. When all of your paycheck is spent each week, without putting some away for yourself, it doesn’t matter how much you are making.
Turning to credit cards is a common strategy used to compensate for a lack of savings. This approach is fine if the new charges are paid off before running up additional purchases. Unfortunately, most people continue to increase the charge balances faster than they pay them off. Therefore, all they have done is increased their monthly expenses.
Other valuable assets in preparing for the unexpected are your skills and knowledge. If you lose your job, do you have enough marketable skills to secure another similar job or a different one? People who have worked for one company for many years may fall into the trap of becoming too specialized with a limited skill set. Expanding your skills and knowledge is great preparation for the unexpected.
Flexibility and a positive attitude are essential for dealing with unplanned events. You must believe in your ability to get through tough times and to find solutions to your problems. Flexibility allows you to consider various strategies. A perfect example is someone who decides to start their own business after losing their job in a tight job market.
Being ready for any impending storm also entails having contingency plans. Work through various what if scenarios to assess what action you must take in order to be adequately prepared. It’s just like a fire drill; as much as possible, you want to know what your options are before the actual alarm rings.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden