Everything these days seems to be about coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus. Especially when you have a family, these can be scary times.
So, first and foremost: Chances are that you will be OK. The novel coronavirus seems to mostly spare young kids, and if you’re a healthy adult under age 50, there’s a good chance you’ll be fine.
Nonetheless, lots of people are worried, and we get it. One question we hear is: How can I financially prepare myself, and my family, just in case?
So think of this as your “good excuse” preparation list. Just as it doesn’t hurt to stock up on extra cereal and toilet paper just in case—we put together a number of financial tasks that you’ll be grateful to get done regardless. We hope your family won’t be affected by the coronavirus at all, but consider this a good excuse to knock these items off your to-do list.
Turning lemons into lemonade and all that, right?
1. Name a Healthcare Proxy
Again—the risks of coronavirus are relatively low right now. Still, it’s a smart idea in general to name a healthcare proxy for yourself. That’s a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make them for yourself.
If, for example, you were to be in a coma, what kind of care would you want to receive? This document allows you to state your own wishes and designate someone to make specific decisions on your behalf. It can be a key way to help relieve stress for family members at a crucial juncture, and it can help avoid infighting among your loved ones.
2. Think About Taking Care of Your Family
If you were no longer around, would your family be OK financially? Let’s keep things in perspective here—your chances of dying from coronavirus are really quite low—but life insurance is a smart move for most parents anyway.
If anyone depends on you, this can help them get by in your absence. Here’s how life insurance works: You name a beneficiary, and if you were to pass away, that person would receive a lump sum from the insurance company. They could use the money to fund your funeral, pay off debts like credit cards or a mortgage, replace the income you would’ve contributed and more.
Full disclosure: Fabric lets you apply for term life insurance in 10 minutes, online, without speaking to an agent.
3. Verify Your Health Insurance Details
Do you have a deductible? If so, do you know offhand how much it is, and how close (or far) you are from hitting it? It’s always a good idea to make sure you have enough on hand in savings to take care of your deductible in case something were to happen. But especially with the media abuzz about a pandemic, this is a good time to ensure that you could cover your deductible if you needed to.
No health insurance? Again, something you should probably take care of no matter what’s happening with world events. But given what’s going on, another great excuse to finally go on a healthcare exchange or find your own insurance.
4. Reassess Your Emergency Fund
Take the opportunity to think about your emergency savings fund. If something unforeseen happened financially, how much do you have on hand to deal with it? This is a good step for everyone, but especially those in jobs that may have limited sick days, or no guaranteed paid sick leave at all.
If you’re concerned about taking a financial hit due to coronavirus (from missed work, medical treatments that may not be covered by your insurance, paying off your deductible or anything else), take as much action as you can while you’re healthy: Try to minimize your spending and set aside as much as you can from your paychecks to bolster your savings.
5. Update Your Will
This is a best practice even in the best of times. We like to recommend that people update their last will and testament whenever there’s a major change in their lives, such as a birth, marriage or divorce—or once a year. It’s a good idea to periodically review your choices and make sure they still fit your life. Do you still want to choose the same person as your beneficiary? Do you still want the person you’ve chosen as your executor?
If you haven’t made a will yet, you can make one for free with Fabric’s online will maker. And if you already have a will with Fabric, you can update it by logging in to your account.
At the end of the day, COVID-19 could be a big deal or a flash in the pan. We don’t actually know, so the approach we’re taking is to hope for the best—while taking a few easy steps to get our affairs buttoned up just in case.
If this whole coronavirus thing blows over, we definitely won’t mind things like an updated will and more confidence in our health plan and emergency fund!