Managing Household Finances after a Flood

Photo of a woman doing bills using a calculator with dollar bills in her hand.
Image from

As you start to clean up after being hit by floodwaters and storm damage, you also start to add up the cost of these damages.  Stress also adds up as individuals try to keep track of additional expenses and perhaps lost wages for time away from work due to flooding and clean up.

A few things to keep in mind as you return home or start to tackle clean up include:

  • Document the damage to property and possessions by taking pictures. If you can’t take pictures, be sure to write down a description of each item.
  • Save receipts from materials you may purchase for repairs or preventing further damage.
  • Keep track of additional living expenses if you’ve had to stay in a hotel or eat out, for example. Some insurance policies include coverage for additional living expenses when a home is not livable.
  • Write down any phone calls you have with emergency programs – the date, time, who you speak with, what paperwork might be needed, etc. Keep copies of any letters or forms you submit.

Some households may have insurance coverage to help with flood damages through the National Flood Insurance Program. Other damage that may have been caused by rain, wind, or lightening during the storms, or perhaps from power outages after the storms, might be covered by a standard homeowners policy. Sadly, many people will likely have expenses and damages that are not covered by insurance or emergency relief programs.

UW-Extension has personal financial management tools to help individuals keep track of everyday living expenses, along with all the additional costs an unexpected event can add to a budget. Budgeting worksheets, guidelines for debt management, and dealing with stress can be found here. Many worksheets are available in both English and Spanish.

For individuals who would like assistance in putting together a budget or creating a plan to pay off debt, information on nonprofit financial counseling organizations can be found at or 888-505-2105.

For more information on budgeting resources and personal financial management, contact your local UW-Extension office.

Author: Peggy Olive, Financial Capability Specialist, Center of Financial Security, UW-Madison