Wash your hands, social distance, no handshakes: all great reminders to help reduce the spread of a global virus. But, what else can be done to prepare for a pandemic or any large scale emergency that may cause disruption to your daily life? The key is to be proactive to avoid panic. Taking action to create a plan can help lessen the anxiety and stress often associated with unsettling and unpredictable circumstances.
So while you may be taking note of just how close you are standing next to someone, here are four strategies to take so you are financially prepared to withstand an emergency:
1. Digital Banking
If you are not already utilizing digital banking services, this is the most important step you can take to being financially prepared for a wide-spread adverse event. The online and mobile services that many banks offer provide easy access to your accounts and the ability to complete a wide variety of banking transactions remotely. For example, you can use a home computer or mobile device to access Lakeland Bank accounts to perform the following 24/7:
- Online Banking – manage your accounts in real time
- Check account balances
- Transfer funds
- Review recent activity
- Access monthly bank statements
- Use Bill Pay to manage all your bills with the option to set up automatic payments
- Securely send money to other people
- eAlerts – sign up to receive alerts about your account
- Credit Sense is a great tool to monitor your credit and spot fraudulent activity
- Mobile Banking – offers the above features with the following bonuses:
- Deposit checks easily by submitting a photo of a check via your smartphone
- Use Touch ID or Face ID available on some phones to quickly and securely log into Lakeland’s Mobile Banking App
- Access Card Control to manage your debit card; turn it on or off, block usage or control your spending
Make Online and Mobile Banking part of your financial preparedness plan so you can bank without leaving home and have the peace of mind that you can still manage your banking remotely if the need arises. For assistance setting up your Online and Mobile Banking, visit LakelandBank.com or contact our friendly Customer Service Team at 866-224-1379.
2. Use Direct Deposit
Many employers offer employees the option to have their paycheck electronically deposited. This is a great benefit for employees! Check out Lakeland Bank’s Direct Deposit form and consider these reasons why direct deposit may be a better option than your paper paycheck:
- Convenience: no need to take a trip to the bank or worry about being at work to get your paycheck
- Security: direct deposit reduces the risk of your check or personal information getting lost or stolen
- Instant access: direct deposit funds clear instantly so you have immediate access to your pay
- Easier to budget: you can split and direct funds to go toward a savings account, emergency fund or other financial goal
3. Boost or Build an Emergency Fund
If you already have an emergency fund, you might want to consider giving it a boost if possible. Having access to funds to help cover unexpected expenses such as medical costs or being able to pay bills in the event of loss of income should be part of your financial preparedness plan. Don’t have an emergency fund established? It’s not too late to start one. Read our blog “Why It’s Important to Build an Emergency Savings Fund to Avoid a Crisis” and use these quick tips to start funding one:
- Pay yourself first. Set up automatic transfers or add your emergency savings account to your monthly list of bills and make a deposit. Even $100 a month will turn into $1,200 after one year.
- Emergency Savings. Tax refunds are a great way to set up an emergency savings account and help give you the motivation to continue building your fund. Other ways are to use gifts of money to get started – even if you save half of the gift and spend the other half on something special.
- Focus on today. Focus on the small ways you can reach your goal and not on the grand total. For instance, break down your goal to save $100 a month into smaller bits. Cut spending by $3.00 a day and you would be just shy of hitting your mark. Add to that by packing lunch just once a week and putting those savings to your fund and you’ll exceed your goal!
- Sell something. Go through the closets, the toy box, and the garage to pull out items you no longer use. We’re talking clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry, electronics, games, books or larger objects like the kayak you bought and never put in the water. Assign a price tag and list them on one or more of the numerous online marketplaces. Make the commitment to add what you earn to your emergency savings fund and not spend the money!
4. Keep Cash on Hand
Debit and credit cards have made everyday purchases like buying gas, a morning cup of coffee or a take-out dinner easy to do without paying in cash. However, regardless of the kind of public emergency that you might experience, having cash on hand should be a part of your preparedness plan. Even during an electrical outage, businesses can usually help consumers who can pay with cash. And remember, ATMs may not function during emergencies so storing some cash at home in a safe and secure location can be a real life saver.
One of the best ways to feel empowered during an emergency is to be prepared. And that means having a plan that includes your financial matters. Ready.gov, the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, is a valuable resource for more advice and guidance on planning for disasters and emergencies. We’re here to help too! Please stop by a branch, visit us at LakelandBank.com or call our Customer Service team at 866-224-1379 if you need assistance with your financial matters.