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4 Smart Moves to Protect Against Financial Disaster One day you're a millionaire, the next day you're not.

By Steph Wagner

This story appears in the September 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


Eighteen months ago, Jessica was living a lifestyle most people only dream about -- debt-free, hundreds of thousands in the bank, owner of a kick-ass retail business and a net worth approaching eight digits. Then she got sued. Now she hardly sleeps. Her bank account is nearly empty. Her credit card balances have passed $100,000. She has tapped out her company's line of credit, and the IRS is threatening to go after her unpaid taxes. Even though she is sitting on more than $5 million of real estate that she owns free and clear, no bank will lend her a dime against it.

Related: 6 Simple Strategies for Better Money Management

It's a horror story many people know well. (I'm acquainted with Jessica but can't reveal more details because of her ongoing case. "Jessica" isn't her real name.) Life is full of awful surprises like hers -- just ask anyone who has survived a contentious divorce, the loss of a job or a major illness or accident. Unless your finances are as sturdy as a bomb shelter and you have an emergency plan in place, one big disaster can topple everything you've built.

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