Thursday, March 26, 2020

Writing to Change the World

The entire world has become unraveled.  In a matter of two weeks in our small corner of the gigantic globe, non-essential businesses have closed their doors in a dramatic effort to stop the spread of the deadly and infectious coronavirus.  Never in this generation’s lifetime has anyone witnessed something like it.  People who thought their jobs were secure learned otherwise.  Many are taking advantage of the financial institutions’ offer to defer loan payments up to six months.  In Saskatchewan, all crown utilities have implemented a bill-deferral program with zero-interest charges. Churches, recreation and entertainment facilities, and other services have been instructed to follow the strict guidelines to minimize contact with others.  The world has been told to “shut-down”.

This pandemic, declared by the World Health Organization on March 11th, has led to massive job layoffs and created fear.  Many people live with uncertainty. Some financial aid is forthcoming from the federal government to carry people through this crisis.  In the meantime, as in most calamities, everyone will look for ways to cut their spending as a result of reduced income. 

The role of financial planners is to assist their clients manage through the chaos. Eventually this scare will pass and life will return to a state of normalcy. When it does, the wise step would be to have a solid action plan. Most people know what they should do, but don’t. Hopefully, this unfortunate world crisis will cause us to see the importance of an emergency fund (or rather…a disaster fund). No one saw this coming; and no one would have expected this. But it’s true with any disaster. When you are prepared for an emergency (or disaster), you alleviate the pressure created by excessive worry.

All the writings shared at this website have been written with one purpose in mind.  That purpose is to help you fulfill your dreams while you manage money issues. The one major take away I gleaned from this pandemic is the importance of my family and friends.  They are an integral part of my life and they take priority over material things.  Today’s society has forced everyone to want more, be more, and have more.  That just doesn’t sound right considering what we all have witnessed on the world stage today.  Being safe and keeping my family safe is now top of mind.  I hope it’s on yours too.  Although the world outside our sphere appears to have become unraveled, let it not drastically affect our inner sphere.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

When You Don’t Know What to Do

Everybody, who has picked up the notorious Western Producer, got a true picture of the grim news facing farmers and the agriculture industry.  This past month the headlines proclaimed some harsh realities. 

The organizers and sponsors for a workshop held on February 27th in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, couldn’t have chosen a better title. “Managing Through the Storm” encapsulated the dramatic impacts on agricultural producers from different angles, financially and emotionally.  The presenters were well-chosen to address the hot topics. 

Gerry Friesen, is an acclaimed stress expert, motivational speaker, and blogger who wears the title, The Recovering Farmer.   

When his sister asked him what it meant to be are covering farmer, he wasn’t certain, so he conducted some research. With the aid of a dictionary, he discovered, “Recover means to return to a previous level of health, prosperity, and equanimity.”   Gerry was extremely straightforward with his listeners and didn’t mince words. “When you have a problem and you think you can hide it, the truth is you haven’t hidden it very well.”  Gerry learned this truth from his family as he fought to conceal his own crises.  Now he willingly shares his wisdom with others.

Gerry’s insights lead one to believe hope is available to anyone in desperate situations. The key is to understand how our brain tends to react when news is delivered to us and processed through us. Are we responding with our thinking brain or feeling brain?  One brain but two thought processes. Gerry presents an interesting perspective on the feeling brain. It’s the “Drama Queen.”   I believe we can easily associate a drama queen to someone we encounter in our daily lives. This person blasts anything and everything out of proportion. The feeling brain resides within us, therefore, we must carefully distinguish which brain we use to ensure our decisions are founded with clarity rather than emotion.     

The more aware and educated we become on topics presented from experts like Gerry, the more we will talk and share these intricate details with others.  These findings are critical to the need to overcome symptoms of stress.  During his presentation, Gerry shared concrete ways to “conquer and kill” our unwelcome demons. 

I sway in my writings about money matters from either perspective, a salaried employee or a self-employed individual. Regardless of your role, money management is part of everyone’s picture.  For an owner of any enterprise (farming or otherwise), your business must strive and thrive in order to fund personal goals, dreams, and aspirations. Although we cannot expect ourselves to be experts in every area, we can direct people to resources where they can find assistance when facing unforeseen challenges. HELP means to make it easier for someone to do a job, deal with a problem, or assist them in finding suitable solutions.  

To provide a broad perspective on the word H-E-L-P, let’s look at ways to pave the road to recovery.

HHear the media reports happening around you; Highlight only the ones which affect you and are within your control.   
EEngage with others; Educate yourself on the issues that cause you deep concern. In the end, you are driving the bus and you pick the most appropriate route to take for your business and personal life.
LLook for support; List your options; and Learn what works the best for you.
PPlan the next step most suitable for your present needs. Prioritize well-researched and well-thought-out strategies.

We often have heard that “quitting” is not an option…and really, it isn’t!  Many years ago, I handed our son a scroll with the same poem which Gerry ends his presentation.  Although quitting is not an option, “switching gears” certainly is until you find your ways back to health, prosperity, and equanimity.  So when you don’t know what to do, just ask and someone will lend a listening ear and guide you to someone who can help you.

But “Don’t Quit”.

       When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
      When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
      When the funds are low and the debts are high
      And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
      When care is pressing you down a bit,
      Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

      Success is failure turned inside out –
      The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
      And you never can tell just how close you are,
      It may be near when it seems so far;
      So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
      It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. 

To hear more about Gerry’s thoughts, advice and his story, take a peek on his website, The Recovering Farmer