A couple of weeks ago, my apartment was broken into. I live on the ground floor of a three-storey walkup, and I knew that kitchen window was dodgy from the moment I moved in.
They did a thorough job–jewelery, my older laptop (thank goodness I seldom leave the house without my Mac!), tools, my digital cable box.
The truth is, bad stuff happens every day: sickness, accidents, fires, job losses. And you can never really be fully prepared. But there are some things you can do. As an artist, someone who creates their livelihood from their art, you are more at risk than someone who has a job to go to, in some ways. If something happens, and you lose all of your paintings, you have lost a huge chunk of your income. For me, my main means of making a living is my laptop. If that was gone, either because it broke down/crashed, or was stolen, I’d be in big trouble.
So, in the spirit of hoping that people learn from my mistakes, here are some things I’m asking you to think about:
Insurance. I didn’t have insurance on my place, but the next time I move, I will get it for sure. In addition to having insurance, make sure you have a video or photos of your valuables, and have the serial numbers written down in a safe place. Emailing them to your webmail address is a great idea. You may want to do the same with ID. My passport was stolen, but I had scanned it recently because of a trip I took. It was very reassuring to be able to find my passport number with a minimum of effort.
Emergency fund: Even if you do have insurance, chances are there is some kind of deductible. As well, it may take quite a bit of time for the policy to be processed and for you to get the money. Having a separate bank account that is harder to get at (perhaps at a different bank than your main one) is a great solution. Whatever you can afford every month: put something away “just in case.” Experts recommend three months’ salary. You may not be able to manage that, but every bit that keeps you from having to borrow in dire circumstances is worth it.
Backing up: If you have files that are important or integral to your business, back them up. You may want to even think about multiple backups, including one that is off-site, in case of fire or, as in my case, the thieves took my flash drive backup, as well. Upload your photos to Picassa or Photobucket. You can make your settings private so no one else can see them, but at least you know you have a copy of your wedding/baby pictures somewhere.
The best-case scenario in preparing for the unexpected is that you will never need your backup plan. But if the worst happens, you’re covered…