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Financial tips after the Big One hits

Superstorm Sandy has brought not only physical, but also potentially financial, ruin for many victims in its path. Experts say even though putting your life back together after a natural disaster may seem daunting, some financial tips can help you weather the storm and achieve debt relief even in these difficult circumstances.

First, those who have been hard hit by natural crises should temporarily put concerns about their credit score on hold. At this time, your credit score will be second to the essentials you need, including food, shelter, clothing and other basics. Experts say that disregarding your credit rating in this situation is the only way to make sure you survive without spending all available liquid assets. Charge as much as you need to.

Still, be sure that you are spending money with clear intention after such an event. Every cent that you spend is increasingly valuable after a natural disaster, largely because your employment situation might be fragile. Those affected by Sandy may not have been able to return to work, so their earning power has temporarily diminished. Storm victims need to have a spending plan.

Experts also say that using a credit card in crises is generally advisable to using your debit card or cash. That way, you have easy-to-access cash assets in case you need them. You can deal with the resulting debt after the natural disaster is over, say financial professionals. Even if you have difficulty making minimum payments, you can figure out a solution when the emergency has passed.

Be sure to notify all of your creditors and insurance companies about the disaster. Many firms will provide emergency waivers in case you have been displaced from your home or job during a disaster. Forbearance programs among creditors are common for those who have suffered major losses during a storm.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How to survive debt after a natural disaster," Steve Rhode, Nov. 5, 2012

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