Emergency Money Management

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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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