Last week I got a call from a woman that was referred to me by a client.
"Francesca*" was a single mom of two teens that was concerned about a few things. She shared with me that she always had these things on her mind but with a busy work and home life, she just never took the time to really address them.
Now, due to the quarantine, she found herself with more time on her hands to think about things (mostly when she was trying to fall asleep) and these financial concerns were weighing on her quite a bit more.
Even though she seemed to be a good saver and felt she lived within her means, with the current uncertainty in the economy, she was really starting to worry if her kid's college goals and her own retirement would come to fruition. She was never really sure if she was in a good place financially and on track to meet her goals, but felt even more uncertain now.
We talked for some time about by having a good financial plan, it can help mitigate some of these worries. "But what if I find out I'm in bad shape financially?" she asked. I explained that was okay because it gave us the opportunity to change directions.
Much like driving across the country without a map, if you don't know where you are going, you may not get there. However, if along the way you realize you are heading in the wrong direction, you can adjust your course and arrive at your destination. I've done a fair amount of driving before GPS existed and learned the sooner I found I was off course, the better. The same applies to one's financial life.
The conversation turned to gratitude during this difficult time. I asked her to name three things she felt was going right even though things could feel pretty wrong. (She gave me more than three as you will see, once she started thinking about it)
Here's what she came up with:
- As of right now, both my kids and I are healthy
- We are spending more time together watching movies or singing or dancing
- We still have a home
- We have food to eat (even though a bit more difficult to obtain)
- We can still go outside and take walks
- We are doing more baking together
- I'm reading more books I felt I didn't have time for before
- I reconnected with an old friend from college
We both agreed things could be much worse and ending the call, she told me she felt much better.
Later that night, I was organizing my bookcase in my home office and came across a copy of "The Diary of Anne Frank".
I flipped through the book and thought back to my earlier conversation with "Francesca*".
It didn't take me long to realize that (unless we are sick or struggling financially) we don't have much to complain about.
I imagined living today in Anne Frank's shoes. Anne and her family spent over two years hidden in that annex. Every day, worrying that they would be found and sent off to a concentration camp.
During that time, they never saw the sun, saw the sky, or were able to go outside.
During much of the day, they couldn't make any noise.
They had food to eat but I'm sure it wasn't the variety you and I are enjoying even with the Coronavirus at hand. (I don't recall any mention of ice cream in the book)
No Netflix binge watching for the Frank family. Although, if I remember correctly, they could listen to a BBC program but I'm sure it wasn't comedic in nature.
No singing or dancing allowed.
The Franks had to share the Annex with others so imagine how cramped their lives were during this prolonged stay. (We can at least move to another room if our housemates are driving us mad.)
As difficult it is right now, remember that we are all in this together and the end is in sight. Let's continue to practice physical distancing, (I much prefer that term than social distancing as we must remain socially connected but just in a different way) washing our hands after coming in the house, and using protection when out in public. Common sense will go a long way.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me anytime for a conversation. Here is a link to my calendar if you would like to schedule a call. I've expanded my hours to include early morning and evenings. Click HERE
In good health.
All the best.
Rick Fingerman, CFP®
*Francesca is a fictitious name.
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