April 29, 2020
As we have seen over the past several weeks, a pandemic is not indiscriminate. It is not just about the illness itself, but the fallout from everything surrounding it. The best companies in the world are facing challenges they likely did not fathom because when human capital is compromised the business of conducting business does not carry on. It is cyclical on so many levels. When people cannot work, they lose money. When they lose money, they don’t spend. When spending ceases, businesses falter. On and on it goes. So, the question becomes how do you break out of the cycle to retain some normalcy in terms of routine and stability?
These days job security is something that is highly coveted. It would be hard for anyone to disagree with this. It’s one thing to be open to changing jobs, but another thing altogether to be forcibly removed from your position or find yourself on an employment hiatus (believe me, I know this all too well!). When this happens a whole range of emotions play out. You may feel fear, anger, grief, sadness if you were at a company you were happy to be a part of. Or maybe you hated your job and you are suddenly happier than you have been in a long time! Either way, once you sort through it, homework is waiting for you because the business of living continues on.
After you take the several deep breaths you may need to focus it becomes time to pull up the bootstraps. We are all working in overdrive these days, but people are being innovative, and I see this everywhere! Restaurants are adapting to takeout service, communities are supporting each other, people are using their talents in ways other than those exclusive to their trained vocations in an effort to generate an income. I personally love all of the outside-the-box thinking!
Now I will sound like a cliché as I say this, but honesty is the best policy, hands down. When it comes to this there is no gray matter. You are honest about something, or you are not. Little white lies and half-truths are 100% dishonest. I can tell myself that eating ice cream every night is not going to impact how my clothes fit, but clearly that is a lie. Honesty about your finances are no different. Getting laid off or losing your job is when you must have the hard conversations with yourself. Hopefully you do have a rainy-day fund available, but if you don’t or it’s not enough you need to develop a plan on how to deal with it. What are your immediate goals and needs? What can you live without and where can you find savings? These are all important considerations and they require unbiased truth.
When preparing financial plans with my clients I stress the importance of the emergency fund. It’s also important to remind them that there is a solution to every problem, so if the unexpected happens, like a pandemic, people should not feel completely deflated and be able to work toward finding a solution objectively. That is the purpose of having a plan. It is a map that gives you directions for the course but if you are forced to take a hard right, you know what space you find yourself in and work to develop a new line to get back on the right track. Financial plans are flexible because the reality is life is unpredictable and we need to have the ability change accordingly.
Exactly one year ago I was facing the unknown and not because of a pandemic. At the time a pandemic would have been much more understandable. I wrote about the experience of TAKING THE HARD RIGHT and the emotions that go along with it. As I mentioned in that blog post, life is evolutionary, and this pandemic is certainly accelerating this concept. The way we work, communicate, educate our children, and function in public is all changing and evolving. If you find yourself displaced, dust off your plan and tie those boots more tightly. Don’t have a plan? There is not a better time than now to create one. Remember, you are not alone, and like myself you too will find your way through these unchartered waters.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.