7 Checks to Prepare Financially for Worst-Case Scenarios in 2022
Though you may not even want to consider the worst things that can happen to you and your family, they're still worth considering in preparation for 2022.
In a week where a "National School Shooting Day" has been spread on TikTok, it has prompted parents to take a look at the odds of being killed in a school shooting: They're low, about one in two million.
However, when you think about all the worst-case scenarios possible, have you financially prepared for them in 2022? You don't want to be caught off-guard if the worst occurs.
It sounds bleak and takes a negative approach to ringing in the new year, but you don't know what financial disruptors could come down the pipeline. Think of these financial checks for 2022.
Check 1: Consider what could happen.
This isn't fun to think about, but there are no guarantees in life. For example, you could get cancer (men have a one in 60 chance of developing pancreatic cancer). You could lose a family member in a tragic accident. (The odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash in 2019 were one in 8,393.) You might get divorced. (The divorce rate is 2.7 per 1,000 of the population.) You might land in the emergency room. (An emergency room visit typically costs from $150 to $3,000 or more. For patients without health insurance, depending on the severity of the condition and tests and treatment needed, the costs could reach over $1,200.)
How financially prepared are Americans in general?
Statistics from Mint show the following: About 18% of workers earning a salary greater than $100,000 are living paycheck to paycheck. As of August 2020, 21% of U.S. adults had no emergency savings. From 2015 to 2029, Americans’ consumer credit card balances have nearly doubled, growing from $72 billion to $143 billion.
Financially preparing for all the possibilities can help you meet future challenges head-on.
Check 2: Consider your emergency fund.
Experts state that it's a good idea to have three to six months' worth of money ready for emergencies. They suggest putting automatic deposits into short-term or long-term emergency funds, such as putting money into a money market account for a short-term emergency fund or putting money into a certificate of deposit (CD) for a long-term emergency fund. (Just realize that if you need the money sooner, you may not be able to get your money out of a CD without paying a penalty.)
It's important to have a strong reserve of emergency cash available, possibly beyond the three-to-six-month suggestion.
Check 3: Review your insurance policies.
Canvass all of your insurance policies. Of all the things that can happen, consider what you might need, whether it's life insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, long-term care insurance, health insurance, auto insurance or long-term disability insurance. If you don't have additional riders or policies to cover these types of perils, find out what else you need and make sure you have coverage for any gaps. You might even need to have a heart-to-heart talk with your insurance company.
In addition, consider the types of insurance policies you don't need (the types of insurance you may be wasting money on): private mortgage insurance, extended warranties, rental car insurance, car rental damage insurance, flight insurance and life insurance for kids.
Check 4: Learn great financial habits.
It's a good idea to learn as much as possible about developing great financial habits because doing so can help you improve your saving and investing decisions for life.
Knowing your credit score, putting together a budget, handling credit cards well and not spending money excessively on things you don't need can help you develop your own financial philosophy and can help you prepare for next year and the years beyond.
Check 5: Ask yourself whether you're paying yourself first.
Are you paying yourself first? Paying yourself first means that if you have a 401(k) or IRA, you automate saving money. What worst-case scenario does this solve? It allows you to have enough savings for retirement. You can allocate a certain percentage to come out of your paycheck with each pay period.
Without you even noticing it, your money goes toward savings and investment accounts and that money continues to compound as the years go on.
Don't forget to give yourself a raise when you pay yourself first as well. Try to increase your savings by increasing your percentage next year, even if you only do it one time. Luckily, you can do it pretty painlessly by simply increasing by small percentage points every so often. Keep doing that until you meet your maximum contribution allowed. The IRS recently announced that the 2022 contribution limit for 401(k) plans will increase to $20,500 — that's a nice chunk of change! Don't forget to consider adding catch-up contributions to your 401(k) if you're 50 or older.
In 2022, why not challenge yourself to increase your retirement savings by 1% each quarter until it reaches at least 10%? You can also challenge yourself to go beyond that amount next year.
Check 6: Consider your expenses.
How much do you spend? Consider your expenses and how you could adjust those to strengthen your financial situation. For example, consider what you could do if your house was paid off. Or what would you do with your money if you didn't have a car loan?
Talk with your family about how you might be able to eliminate certain expenses, such as dining out, buying extra clothes and spending money on other non-necessities.
To that end, it's a good idea to track your spending and eliminate your reliance on credit cards. Consider giving each dollar a job. That way, you prepare for just about anything that might come your way — good or bad.
Check 7: Do you have life insurance?
What would happen to your family if you died unexpectedly? What if you were to go holiday shopping and you died in a car accident on your way home? While that sounds horrible, it's worth considering. Do you have the right life insurance put into place? Getting life insurance helps your family get by financially in the event of your death. Seriously consider loving on your family a little more by getting life insurance in 2022.
Should We Think in Terms of Worst-Case Scenarios?
This week, schools are certainly considering worst-case scenarios. Though you probably don't want to dwell on the horrible things that "could" happen, it's still healthy to consider the possibilities and plan ahead in the new year.