4 ways to prepare your finances for natural disasters

People prepare for big storms by stocking up on things like water, gas and batteries, but they often forget about putting their finances in order.

People prepare for big storms by stocking up on things like water, gas and batteries, but they often forget about putting their finances in order.

John Woods, President of Southport Capital in Atlanta and author of The Smart Route to a Dream Retirement, has four ways to prepare your finances for a disaster.

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4 ways to prepare your finances for natural disasters

People prepare for big storms by stocking up on things like water, gas and batteries, but they often forget about putting their finances in order.

Author: Jennifer Leslie

Published: 7:04 AM EDT September 14, 2018

Updated: 7:11 AM EDT September 14, 2018

People prepare for big storms by stocking up on things like water, gas and batteries, but they often forget about putting their finances in order.

John Woods, President of Southport Capital in Atlanta and author of The Smart Route to a Dream Retirement, has four ways to prepare your finances for a disaster.

  1. Keep Cash on Hand: It’s a good idea to have emergency cash on hand to ensure you are able to purchase any necessities during or after the storm. Banks may close and ATMs could go down during the storm and may not be up and running for days. Stores may not be able to process a debit or credit card transaction and may only be accepting cash. Consider how much money you will need for food, gas and other necessities when deciding how much money you will need. “This is an example of why it is so important to have an emergency fund for your family. I recommend having enough cash in a savings account to cover 6 months worth of expenses. Build up your savings so that money is available to you during an emergency,” Woods said.

  2. Secure Important Documents: Think about the financial paperwork you might need: your home, auto, health and life insurance policies; phone numbers to file a claim; credit card, bank account and investment account information; as well as real estate deeds. Store your important documents and emergency cash in a locked, waterproof and fireproof container that you can take with you in case you are evacuated. “One of the most stressful things following a disaster is locating your important documents and insurance policies and knowing who to call. Save yourself the time and stress by putting all these documents in one place now,” Woods added.

  3. Take Inventory: If you have to file an insurance claim after the storm, it will be much easier if you have an inventory of your possessions. Take pictures of individual items, as well as entire rooms and inside drawers. Consider recording a video as you walk through your home, describing items you see in each room. Be sure you are detailed in your inventory. Note where you purchased your possessions and for how much. This inventory is also useful if you claim any losses on your taxes.

  4. Check Your Insurance: You may not have had a chance to do this before Hurricane Florence, but this is an important reminder before another natural disaster strikes. Make sure all of your insurance policies are up to date and check for any potential lapses in your coverage. This includes your home, auto and life insurance. “Life insurance provides protection for your loved ones. I recommend anyone with dependents, including a spouse and/or children, consider getting life insurance,” Woods said. “The death benefit on the policy can help pay for funeral costs, pay bills, keep a family business afloat, pay off debt or finance a child’s education.”

4 mental mistakes that could hurt your 401(k)

4 mental mistakes that could hurt your 401(k)

Adam Shell USA TODAY

A heads-up to anyone with a 401(k): With the stock market near record highs, the biggest threat to your hardearned retirement savings could be you. Your emotions, biases and other mental miscues can lead to psychological traps that cause you to make bad investment decisions.

The emerging field of behavioral finance, which looks at the relationship between investor psychology and the money-related moves people make, chronicles many human traits that can cause errors in decision-making.

“To keep it simple, behavioral finance is the reality of humans being human and making mistakes,” says Woody Dorsey, president of Market Semiotics, a Vermont research firm that studies and diagnoses the habitual cognitive errors investors make.

Cost of Youth Sports Is Top Stress Point for Parents

Cost of Youth Sports Is Top Stress Point for Parents

FlipGive.com, a cash-back site for youth sports teams that facilitates fundraising through online shopping, released a recent survey that highlights the price that parents are paying to keep their kids in sports programs.

The survey, which polled parents in the U.S. and Canada of kids in organized sports programs across a broad range of categories including baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer, confirms the widely held view that sports programs have become too expensive, putting major stress on families.  Results showed that 87% of parents are stressed by the costs, and 47% allocate between 10% to 25% of annual budgets to kids’ sports.

The benefits of physical activity for mental and physical health cannot be denied, however, with reduced governmental spending on in-school programs, parents are left footing the bill for costly after-school and tournament-driven programs.  Of parents surveyed, 84% of them have resorted to after-school programs to keep their kids active.

 

Future Lookouts stadium entering key time, owner says

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One of the Chattanooga Lookouts' general partners says he sees this fall as a key time in talks that could lead to a new multi-use stadium and that the team will have "a lot of skin in the game."

Businessman John Woods also said that while Chattanooga has seen a lot of growth, it needs to "think bigger."

"We already have a nice city that will be better," he said, with the stadium project helping spur new development in the South Broad District. "We've got to go further."

In a recent interview, Woods said the team's preference is for a public-private partnership to finance the stadium project, though he didn't get specific about funding.

"Later this year, we'll sit down with the parties," Woods said.

He said a so-called master developer of the 141-acre foundry tract off South Broad Street, which a recent study identified as the site for a new stadium and other development, should be on board by fall.

"Then, we'll sit down and put pen to paper to figure out the economics," Woods said. "Whatever is decided will be a fiscally responsible deal that's great for the city."

At the same time, some are urging caution moving forward.

Kim White, who heads the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co., said her entity is "neutral" in terms of a new ballpark.

Do's and Don'ts of Tax-Efficient Investing

Southport Investing

If you’re not following a tax-efficient investing strategy, you could be seriously shortchanging your portfolio.

According to a report from Research Affiliates, taxes – not market volatility or fees – represent the biggest drain on investment returns. Higher turnover rates increase the tax impact, but taxes can still have significant implications for investors even when turnover is low.

Investing in tax-advantaged accounts is one way to beat the tax bite, but you’re constrained by annual contribution caps. A taxable account, on the other hand, isn’t bound by those same restrictions.

The investor also controls when they tap those assets, says John Woods, CEO of Southport Capital in Atlanta. “Taxable accounts allow easy access to cash if you want to liquidate securities.

Unpacking the Complex Web of Insurance Company 401k Fees

In a small business 401(k) fee study, we found that 7 of the top 10 most expensive 401(k) providers were insurance companies.  I can’t say I was too surprised by this finding due to the complex web of 401(k) fees charged by these companies – which can include hidden 401(k) fees that other 401(k) providers can’t charge legally and additional fees for unrelated service partners.

So how do insurance companies with high 401(k) fees get away with it?  

Likely their lack of 401(k) fee transparency. Insurance companies typically don’t report their 401(k) fees in 408b-2 fee disclosures as a simple dollar amount – instead, they estimate them as a percentage of assets.  Or worse, bury them in dense annuity contracts.

If you’re a 401(k) plan sponsor, you should understand the complex web of 401(k) fees possible with an insurance company.  Generally, these fees will make it harder for you to meet your fiduciary responsibility to pay only reasonable fees from 401(k) plan assets.  

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