As hurricane Sandy has swept up the eastern coast of United States, hopefully, we can learn from it and better prepare ourselves financially should another one occur in the future. Our hearts certainly go out to the loved ones of the people who perished as a result of this unforgiving storm.

In today’s economy, it’s very difficult to stash away even three or five $300-$500 for emergency. Not when just about 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and with such a high unemployment rate. So, assuming the economy is going to straighten out and things will get better, now is the time to at least make a plan on how to prepare financially for another disaster.

As any South Floridians will tell you, you’re more likely to walk into the average home and be shown an array of canned goods, flashlights, dry goods, gallons of water, and many more basic supplies in anticipation of the inevitable; a hurricane. What you probably won’t find in their home is one of the most important; a cash reserve so they can purchase goods once the natural disaster strikes. Of course, they are not going to tell you where it is! Even so, they probably won’t be able to come with the money on demand. This is simply because they don’t have it and this can be a huge mistake for a family especially when children are involved.

Bear in mind when the power goes out,it’s possible that you will not be able to pull out any money from an ATM machine for several days. Many people have found themselves with a mere $10 in their wallet during a natural disaster and have had to rely on family and friends to get them through. What about those who just recently moved to a new city and are without friends and family?

Here’s a little check list to make things much easier for you in the future:

1. Keep a stash of cash somewhere where you can easily reach it. My mother, who lives in South Florida, always has a stash of a thousand dollars hidden within her apartment. She calls it her “rainy day money”. I know another friend who keeps a lot of cash in a speaker enclosure in his old-fashioned surround sound setup in is living room. You get the idea. Keep it in a safe and private place where you can easily access it should a natural disaster occur. In cities where tornadoes are common, it’s a good idea to quickly access your money once weather becomes severe. Tornadoes have a habit of coming out of nowhere so it’s understandable you may not even have time to access it but be as prepared as possible and give yourself a chance.

2. Make sure you have copies of your insurance policies in a safe place where you can easily get to it. There are few things worse than being left in the dark, without phone service, and not knowing how to start the rebuilding process if you haven’t the slightest idea of who to call and for what purpose. At the same time, keep a list of all your emergency contacts such as family members, doctors, hospitals, etc. Don’t forget to have your identification with you as well as a check book; you may be able to use a check to get a little cash once a supermarket in your area reopens.