The financial impact may overwhelm those living paycheck to paycheck, credit counseling service warns.
The expense for basic hurricane supplies can run into the hundreds and potential lost wages for Florida hourly workers can be devastating for those who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Consolidated Credit has a booklet about Disaster Planning that people can download free of charge, as well as some tips to help people weather the storm.
“Not all of the damage done by Florida Hurricanes is easy to see. The personal financial impact can stick around long after the storm passes and the lights are back on,” says Gary Herman, president of Consolidated Credit.
“With less than a week’s notice, the average family has trouble coming up with the money they need to buy supplies. Then throw in the cost of plywood, fuel for cars, and maybe even a hotel room due to home damage and you could add another $300 – $400 to the cost of basic supplies”
Consider that the average weekly gross income for Floridians is roughly $1,000; after taxes and other deductions that figure is knocked down to about $800 per week. “Many families without an emergency fund tap whatever resources they have and credit can be a great tool, but I want to caution everyone to pay close attention to their budget,” warns Herman.
Money rules to get out of debt if you’re relying on credit cards for hurricane supplies and repairs:
- After hurricane season has ended start a “hurricane fund” for next year. Sock away $20 per pay period and you could have almost $1,000 saved by next August.
- After necessary repairs have been made, start to live on cash and stop incurring new credit card debt.
- Track your spending and carefully prepare a budget including fixed and flexible expenses. For a free “Budgeting Made Easy” booklet.
- Transfer high interest rate balances to one card with a low interest rate and stop using the card while paying at least each months incurred interest plus the minimum due.
- If you are having a hard time paying your bills find out about Debt Management Programs by calling 1-888-294-3130. You can organize debts into one low monthly payment, reduce or eliminate interest charges, and help restore credit ratings.