I know a lot of people are scared right now about their financial situation with all this going on.
I can say I definitely relate. After going through Hurricane Michael and then Jesse’s health crisis, taking things one day at a time has become a lifestyle. Disaster situations are expensive, but you can get ahead of this as best you can.
It’s been hard to breathe sometimes, but I have found strategy that can help.
Without minimizing your legitimate fears, I want to offer some advice.
1) Have a plan. What is the order of priority for your bills? Sit down and talk with the people in your household responsible for the bills. Get on the same page, now. You don’t want to deal with this when the money runs out. Talk about it now.
2) Communicate with your lenders. Listen, they can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on. Keep them in the loop and they’ll work with you for as long as possible. It’s the radio silence on your end that will get you into trouble. Remember, it’s more expensive for your lender to reposes your car or foreclose on your house than it is to work with you. Solid truth.
3) Do you have what you need to get you through today? Practice gratitude. Let it be the thing that helps you breathe.
4) Now more than ever, buy locally. When you buy locally it goes straight back into your local economy. Your $10 spent at a small business is the lifeblood of your community. Don’t pull back from your local economy out of fear. It will affect you personally down the road if you don’t keep spending. If we all don’t keep spending.
5) Now is not the time to be prideful. If you see financial problems down the road, now is the time to reach out to your closest family members and tell them your potential needs. You have not because you ask not, remember that. It’s no longer us and them, it is we.
6) Don’t take your financial troubles out on your kids, but communicate with them on their level. Let them know there might be some small changes to their daily lifestyle if the time comes, but that you love them and you’ll get through it. My kids slept on the floor in sleeping bags for a month after the hurricane. They pooped in pots. Without internet they had about 10 DVDs they watched on repeat and they never once complained. Their daily snacks were different, more simple. They aren’t fragile, guys. They just need to know you’ll get through it.
7) The average American couldn’t plan for something like this. Okay? It’s not your fault. I remember after the hurricane when I was strapped for cash how much I beat myself up for going on a $100 clothes shopping spree at Walmart the week prior. No good comes from thinking about the coulda, shoulda, wouldas. Today is what matters now. Trust me on this.
8 ) If for some reason a complete lockdown comes, listen, it does suck. But it’s not as bad as you think. Life gets slower. Time becomes less measurable. You connect with your neighbors more. You remember what’s important in life. You look people in the eyes more and smile. The human heart can rise to this occasion if we let it.
9) This will be a great story to tell one day. Write it down. Document everything. A book came out of my time after Hurricane Michael and expressing my feelings about my husband’s illness. The great writers of the past wrote about the issues of the day. Let this be the thing that launches you into new creative heights. Channel your boredom into trying new things.
10) We’re going to get through this. YOU will get through this. I’ve lived through the economic downturn of 2001, I graduated in 2009 during the heart of the recession, I’ve been dirt poor, I survived a Category 5 hurricane, I ripped my husband out of the hands of death during his mental illness… and I’m telling you… listen to me now… I’m telling you that life is beautiful and sweet.
Don’t live these next weeks completely in fear or you’ll miss it.
I remember walking outside after the hurricane and seeing the complete destruction of my world. I remember calling to my neighbors over the sound of chainsaws, the elementary school—where my kids attend—alarm sounding off, being caught in the spotlight of a helicopter…
I looked at the eerily purple and orange sky, smelled the scent of pine, breathed in the essence of smoke filled with tree dust…
… I saw the Milky Way for the first time…
I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to remember this moment. What it felt like. What it smelled like. The exact color of this sky.”
“Why?” He asked.
I smiled. “Because I’m going to write about it. And it will be damn good.”
Write about it.
Sing about it.
Create about it.
These things are free. Our greatest gifts.
And make it damn good.