When a “lifequake” strikes: what to do when your whole world opens up


Do you remember the Great Recession of 2008?

About 13 years ago, many experts believed that our economy was on the verge of collapse, in fact in free fall, perhaps a repeat of the Great Depression. Terms like “Too Big to Fail”, “TARP” and “Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis” have become household words. Massive layoffs pushed the unemployment rate to 10% in October 2009. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been made redundant month after month. Home foreclosures rose a record 81% in 2008, and more than 860,000 families lost their homes that year. What about the stock market? The S&P 500 fell 56.8% from its 2007 high to its 2009 low.

Workers from all socio-economic backgrounds suddenly found themselves jobless and many with nowhere to live. They urgently tried to reinvent themselves just to put food on the table. For much of our nation, any sense of financial security had been stolen from them forever.

The setback is 8:20 p.m., as the saying goes. And looking back over the past decade, we now know that the economy has recovered, unemployment has fallen to record levels, the stock market is back on the rise, and the housing market is s ‘is finally improved. Yet at the time, so many people found themselves deeply unprepared for the financial and emotional fallout of this infamous economic storm.

Caught off guard and knocked down

Have you ever been caught off guard by a major life event? Perhaps you were caught off guard in 2008. Perhaps you were caught off guard by the sudden death of a spouse or partner. Maybe you stumble upon a divorce. Perhaps you recently suffered such an important life event that it took your breath away for a moment. If any of these circumstances describe you or a loved one, chances are the day it happened is now etched in your memory.

And the words “What now? »Still echoes in your thoughts.

When the big one hits, the ground moves below us. For a moment we may not hear anything; our world is still. Maybe we just feel our breath taking. As bestselling author Bruce Feiler writes in his book, Life is in the transitions, that sudden, serious event or series of events is called an earthquake, “because the damage they cause can be devastating, they are higher on the Richter scale and their aftershocks can last for years. “.

We expect life to be a series of changes, adaptations and recalibrations. Some situations require us to take a slight left turn or change our perspective or just take a break and regroup. These are quite easy to navigate. But an earthquake? It asks a lot, a lot more.

In this state, we feel dizzy and disoriented. We are asked to go through the days and weeks to come while living in an heightened state of fear, anger and often grief until we can reclaim our place in this new world. And start over.

Find your safe zone

It follows that Lifequakes can have a huge impact on our sense of financial stability. We can lose our income, our home, and even our financial future that we have spent years building.

And now? What options do we have to regain our financial base? What choices do we need to make to get back on track and in our safe zone? First of all, they say. But what comes first?

People inherently have a lot of resistance to change and transition. And having others tell us that we have to make a decision is not helpful. We end up feeling more overwhelmed and resentful with an even greater sense of inertia. Whether it’s money for today or tomorrow, a new roof over our heads, or just one less sleepless night, we are called to make a transition that is not. of our choice.

If “What now? Is repeating in your head, here are some ideas for a successful start to your transition:

1. Take the time to find your way

You have just suffered a shock. It can be very difficult to make good decisions under such extreme stress. How are you feeling, emotionally and physically right now? If you are having difficulty with either or both, getting help is your first priority. If you are reasonably able to manage your daily routine, set aside 15 minutes a day to answer your short list of what needs to be done and remember that you are in control.

2. Focus on immediate financial concerns

How much money is there in bank and investment accounts? What bills need to be paid this month? If paying an invoice is a problem, call the supplier to let them know. If paying for the house is very late, put aside everything else on your list to focus on that one thing until you have a workable, albeit temporary, solution.

3. Think of time as an illusion

We often place unnecessary demands on the time we have to move forward. Right now, you don’t need to know the answers to all of your questions. You don’t even have to know all of your questions. You also don’t have to solve everything all at once. You just need to tackle each issue as it appears on your list. Go ahead and set a date to complete each item. If you miss a deadline, set another one. Prioritize and re-prioritize as needed so your list works with you, not against you. You are responsible for your time.

4. Expect to feel unbalanced

The terrain has changed and it will take some time for you to feel yourself on a solid footing again. If you frequently wake up in a financial panic, make an appointment with a financial planner to help you face the facts and create a financial path forward.

The power of small decisions

Throughout life’s transitions, you change whether you know it or not. Adaptation occurs. You will find that with each decision you make, your resistance to change weakens and your willingness to accept your new future grows stronger. Maybe step by step, but little by little.

You will also find professionals who can help you get through those first days of your earthquake. Always remember that progress is progress, no matter how small. And your adaptation is the key to accepting that while your life is going to be very different, it can also be very good again.

Note: Investment advisory services provided by TC Wealth Partners, LLC, an investment adviser registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Trust and pension plan services are provided by The Trust Company of Illinois, a trust company licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Past performance does not represent future results. The content of this article is for guidance and information purposes only and is not intended to be construed as advice or solicitation of any particular security, strategy on any investment product. The information provided is not intended to provide investment, tax or legal advice.

Wealth Advisor, TC Wealth Partners

Nancy Bell is a Certified Financial Planner ™, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, Certified SRI Advisor ™ with over 25 years of experience in comprehensive and personal financial and wealth planning. She is a wealth advisor and voting member of the investment committee of TC Wealth Partners, located in Downers Grove, Illinois.

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