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Color of Money: Hurricane Dorian is a reminder for us all to prepare for a financial storm

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- You may not be in the path of Hurricane Dorian, but it's still a good idea to be financially prepared for a storm.

Think of your financial life as going to the beach. One of the things you need to have on hand is sunscreen. You can't see the harmful UV rays, but if you stay out too long without protection, you can get burned -- sometimes badly.

I learned the hard way how important it is to protect myself from the sun. On my first trip to the Caribbean -- Jamaica -- not only did I neglect to put on sunscreen, I applied baby oil, because I wanted a very bronze tan while keeping my skin moisturized.

Stop laughing.

I was a young adult. And growing up, we never went to the beach, so I didn't know. Plus, I foolishly believed the myth that African Americans don't sunburn.

I woke up the next day in so much pain I cried. And I peeled for days as my skin began to heal.

 

Lesson learned: Prepare and protect yourself.

Hurricane Dorian has become an all-out disaster and one that not even the most prepared could weather without loss or damage. However, as I view the satellite images of the storm, it reminds me of how often people fail to prepare for the financial disasters that are just as unpredictable -- a recession, a job loss or a monster storm.

I shake my head when folks -- who can afford to leave -- ignore the dire warnings from authorities to evacuate believing they can ride out the hurricane. They're overconfident of their ability to manage in a crisis, much like the people who keep saying, "I've got a secure job, so why do I need to save?" Or they use the expression "you only live once" to justify taking that vacation, when they needed to save their money for an emergency.

The time in between storms makes us complacent.

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