May Days – #529Day and Florida Disaster Preparedness Lessons

Did you know May 29 is #529Day? Several states are planning giveaways and special promotions to encourage saving to 529 college savings plans. Florida’s last participation in #529Day was in 2019.

Florida is also having a sales tax holiday beginning May 28 for Disaster Preparedness, just as hurricane season starts.

If you are in or near Florida, and getting low on batteries, bungee cords, coolers, tarps, portable generators, or similar items, you can save the sales tax by waiting until the week of May 28 to stock up.

Here is the link to the qualifying list for 2020. As of blog-post time, the state had not yet published a 2021 list.

This Planner Failed to Plan

For a 50-something Florida native whose job title includes the word “planner,” it felt like I should have known better in 2017. That year, when it looked like Hurricane Irma was likely moving up the opposite (Atlantic) coast, my husband and I got double-busy with clients who wanted to squeeze in before it hit.

We got caught up in the work and ignored our own needs. I didn’t fill up my car. We didn’t check our stock of Coleman stove propane canisters. By the time the forecast shifted, there was no gas – for the car, for the stove – of any kind, anywhere. At least I had half a tank (which I mostly used to fire up and charge my cellphone). 

Irma left us without power for 7 days. Cooking on a charcoal grill got old quickly. After 3 days, the charcoal got low, the inside temp climbed to 83 with humidity of 100%, and the frozen fish was rotting. We called it quits and found a hotel that had managed to reopen.

Lessons Learned

From now on, I will pay attention to ALL the strings on the spaghetti model, not just the ones in the middle. I will be prepared to evacuate early or hunker down and have a hotel backup.

The sales tax waiver is both an incentive and a message that some of us, like me, need to hear repeatedly: Disasters happen. The least we can do is be prepared with the basics.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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