Emergency Money Management


Emergency Money Management

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Households with flood damaged furnaces may be eligible for assistance

I read an article in the Minot Daily News this morning about a program to help lower income families Furnacereplace flood damaged furnaces. This is great news! Just yesterday and friend was telling me about the new furnace they installed in their flooded home. We talked about the challenges of choosing the right one and the high cost of replacing a heating system.

So it is good news to hear Gov. Dalrymple is committing $5.6 million in federal funding to help low-income residents in Ward Co. with the prohibitive cost of a new furnace.

The program is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security, Community Action Partnership - Minot Region and Ward County Social Services. The goal of the project is to install 90 percent efficient forced air furnaces to keep foundations heated over the winter.

To qualify, a household can earn up to 60 percent of the state median income for example; a household of one can have an adjusted gross income not exceeding $23,143; a household of two, $30,264; a household of three, $37,385; and a household of four, $44,506.

Applications are located at the Ward County Social Service office, at 400-22nd Avenue NW, Minot, during regular business hours, as well as online at (www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/sfn00529.pdf), which can be completed and returned to the county office.

To read the full news article go to http://tinyurl.com/77xj84j

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Putting Your Financial Puzzle Together After a Disaster

PuzzleA newspaper reporter was in my office this morning asking questions about our Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit. We got to talking about what a crazy summer this has been and what the families with flood damaged home are going through. We agreed the families and the community are taking a substantial financial hit and putting the pieces back together will take time and effort.

After a disaster, you can think about putting the financial pieces of your life together in the same way you would approach solving a picture puzzle. The difference is you have never had to tackle this type of puzzle before. You can see there are many different pieces (preexisting financial situation, needs, availability of assistance programs and other options, strategies, etc.) but you don’t know exactly where to start. You may not even know what all the pieces are. It is hard to tell how important each piece is or how it fits with others. As you work toward a “new normal,” new strategies or solutions may emerge, adding hope but also presenting more challenges.

Following a disaster, you often do not have a clear picture of what life will look like when all the financial pieces are in place. In other words, you do not have a picture on a puzzle box to go by!

You need to start by examining each puzzle piece, one by one, to determine:

  • If it fits into your financial puzzle (if it’s problem you need to solve or a solution to seek in your situation).
  • Where it fits.
  • What it could mean for your financial future.

Like the border of a puzzle, you need something to frame your financial picture. You should start with an assessment of where your finances are after the disaster. That assessment coupled with sound financial tools and strategies will be the frame or foundation that allows you to connect all the other financial puzzle pieces. Piece by piece you can re-build your financial picture

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Documentation a Key to Financial Recovery after a Disaster

I talked with a colleague yesterday and heard of her family’s ongoing recovery from flooding in their home. She commented, “I am amazed at all the decisions, forms, agencies and people we need to work with through this recovery. Every day I am calling someone or they are calling me for more information. It seems never ending.” I asked her if she was documenting all that she is doing. She told me she tries but sometimes forgets or just doesn’t have time.

Documentation is a key to recovery. You may think you will remember important conversations and details, but chances are you won’t be able to remember all of them. Families who have had a home flooded are under a great deal of stress and remembering all the many details is tough. 

Here are some tips for documenting during your recovery

  •  A notebook and calendar are helpful tools.
  •  Record the date of each entry and the crucial details of the conversation, appointments or meeting
  •  Include actions to be taken or next steps and who will do them.
  •  Record the complete name and contact information of the person and agency you are dealing with. 

Here’s an example:

 August 27

3:30 p.m.: Contacted Peoples Natural Gas Co. (phone number), requested gas shut off as soon as possible. Spoke with Tony Hernandez in Customer Service-Ext 3. They expect to do within 24-48 hours. Call back Customer Service to confirm before going into home. Billing authorized to stop on June 18. 


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Toolkit Helps in Financial Recovery from Disaster

Family Financial ToolkitWho knew a couple years ago when NDSU Extension became involved with U of MN Extension in a project related to financial recovery after a disaster that we would be recovering from unprecedented flood related disasters this summer of 2011.  And who would have guessed  that my colleague in that project and fellow blogger, Lori Scharmer, Ward County Extension Agent, would be so uniquely qualified to play a key role in her community’s recovery.

The Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit discusses strategies and provides tools that can help you move along the road towards financial recovery. The tools provided in this toolkit are designed to help families make decisions that are best for their family. This toolkit is designed so that those financially impacted by a disaster can utilize the individual units or use the entire toolkit as their situation requires.

There is both a North Dakota http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/tough-times/disaster-recovery/docs/financial-toolkit-ND.pdf and a Minnesota http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/tough-times/disaster-recovery/docs/financial-tookit-all.pdf version of the toolkit.  The main difference is the resource listing at the end of the toolkit, which is state specific.

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Lori Scharmer

Extension Agent, NDSU Extension Service - Ward County

Photo of Lori ScharmerLori is part of the team that developed the Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit , providing tools for family financial recovery after a disaster. The Toolkit was developed through a partnership between NDSU Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension. Lori is a graduate of NDSU with a BS degree in Home Management and Family Economics and a MS in Family Financial Planning.

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Debra Pankow

Family Economics Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Debra PankowDebra is part of the leadership and was the first chair of the eXtension Financial Security for All Community of Practice, an  online community of  over 300 professionals working to provide timely research and fact based, unbiased resources for consumers.

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Protect Yourself From Unscrupulous Contractors

I received another call today from a Minot flood survivor who was unhappy with the work a contractor had done cleaning her flooded home. I asked if she had paid all the money agreed on, she had not but also said all the work had not been done. I asked if she had a written contract stating what work was to be done, she said no. I asked if the contractor had a North Dakota contractor’s license, she said she didn’t ask for it and he didn’t offer that information. Hmmm . . .this doesn’t sound good!

Unfortunately disasters attract con-artists from across the country. It’s hard to imagine those who have gone through the disaster being taken advantage of but it is happening again and again. This is a time for homeowners beware. Here are some suggestions to protect yourself:

  • Ask to see their ND Contractor’s license, you can find a list of current licensed contractors at http://ag.nd.gov/Flood/documents/LicensedContractors.pdf
  • Never let anyone begin working on your home or business without first establishing a written contract. Don't let anyone rush you into a deal.
  • A good contract should include the contractor's name, business name, phone number and address. You can verify this information with the Attorney General's Office (http://www.ag.nd.gov/) if things don't seem to be adding up right.
  • The contract should include a thorough description of the work to be completed, grade and quality of materials to be used, agreed-upon starting and completion dates, total cost, payment schedule, warranty limits and the contractor's signature.
  • Make your first payment after the contract is established, and make your final payment when the work is completed to your satisfaction.


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