The Importance of Having a Backup Plan

A third of Americans don't have a plan for retirement. Even fewer have a backup plan if things go wrong. Millions of people face an expensive medical emergency unprepared. Hundreds of people are unexpectedly laid off every month. You never know what will happen.

You'd think we would have learned after the COVID shelter at home orders, furloughs, schools closed, toilet paper shortages… What should have been a wake-up call for millions, doesn't seem to have quite sunk in.

Backup plans are your lifeline when things don’t go right. Without a backup plan, you risk digging yourself into a costly hole.

Backup plans help us figure out what to do when things don’t go according to plan.

For instance, you don’t get the job that you were hoping for. Or your roof springs a leak and needs an immediate repair. Your car started sounding funny, and your “Check Engine” light just came on.

In life, so many things can and will go wrong. Our backup plans ensure that we push through and become stronger than ever.

It’s essential to plan for the unexpected.

There are three main areas of life everyone should have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Here's where you should be anticipating future disaster, and some different ways you can protect yourself.

How to Back Up Your Career

For most people, their careers are their lifeblood. It’s what they do most of the time, and careers determine how you fund your lifestyle. Leaving your careers to chance is a mistake.

Update your resume by regularly adding new experiences, education, and achievements. When your resume is current, you can start applying for jobs tomorrow if you unexpectedly lose your job today.

Keep a second copy of your updated resume off your computer. Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive are two excellent cloud storage options to back up your resume. If your computer crashes or you need to access your resume at a moment’s notice, having another copy of it online will be a huge convenience.

Stay close with successful people in your network. Imagine this: you lose your job tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be nice to call Judy or Michael, whom you had lunch with last week, and take them up on that job opportunity they mentioned? You didn’t need it then, but it is nice now.

Far too many people don’t utilize their networks well. Coworkers come and go. Most lose contact with each other. That’s a mistake. Networks connect us to opportunities that you might never know existed otherwise. Make it a priority to reach out to a few people in your network to keep those lines of communication open.

How to Back Up Personal Documents and Photos

Most people have documents that they cannot lose. These documents might include birth certificates, passports, and social security cards. It’s important not to lose these documents.

A great way to protect essential documents is with a fire-proof safe. A safe is a strong and often heavy piece of equipment that is difficult to break into — it protects its contents from natural disasters like fires or floods.

Instead of a safe, many people use safe deposit boxes at banks and credit unions.

A safe deposit box is a small secured compartment built inside a large, secure vault that only a limited number of people can access. You rent them to store valuables and highly-sensitive or essential documents. However, because safe deposit boxes are only available at banks and credit unions, they may be more inconvenient than a high-quality safe in your home, especially after an event like Hurricane Ian, where your local bank might suddenly be closed.

Use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to backup documents from your computer’s hard drive that you don’t want to lose. Documents stored “in the cloud” are available from anywhere with an Internet connection and provide a quick and easy method to backup your files and photos.

If you have a lot of print photographs that you want to backup, consider sending them away to get scanned and put onto a CD. You can purchase a photo scanner to do this yourself, but if you have a lot of photographs, it might be faster to use a reputable service such as ScanCafe.

How to Back Up Your Finances

Emergencies are expensive. Sudden home repairs or a car accident can quickly saddle you with thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses. Going into debt might be your only option if you don’t have a backup plan.

The best way to backup your finances is by keeping an emergency fund. Emergency funds are separated pots of money used in the case of an unexpected expense. For instance, how long could you live without a job if you lost yours tomorrow? The bigger your emergency fund, the less stress you’ll feel if something goes wrong.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one today. Open a savings account, not checking. Then log into your primary bank’s online system – where your paycheck gets deposited. Set up automated transfers from your primary bank account to the savings account you just opened. If you can only transfer $100 a month, that’s fine. The point is to get started. Then, if something happens, you’ll have that money sitting in your savings account, ready to be used.

Remember: Don’t steal from your emergency savings, even if that top-of-the-line television just went on sale, and you must have it for the Super Bowl game. This money is only to cover an actual emergency.

Backups are crucial for mental well-being. Just a few months ago, more than 100,000 families found themselves homeless due to Hurricane Ian – some of them losing all three things they should have backed up. Don't take that chance with your life.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at