So much of the growing “bandwagon hype” focuses on elaborate scenarios, calculated to make a sensational impact. A balanced and methodical approach to preparedness covers more aspects to “being prepared” than doomsday events and even natural disasters. Recently, I have dealt with three particular cases in which families and individuals were affected by distinct and unfortunate circumstances. What are some other ways that you can be ready for a different kind of scenario, when your world comes crashing down?
- Sudden Death within the family
- Loss of employment
Recently, I was saddened to learn of a divorce between a couple that appeared to have everything: strong & stable marriage, financial wealth, excellent health, and admirable goals as a couple and small family. Both are highly intelligent individuals with great careers…things are not always as they appear on the surface. This particular couple has recently filed for divorce and their lives have been turned upside down with the betrayal of trust committed by one of the spouses. Tragic.
Where does the betrayed spouse turn? How will he/she weather the storm of mortgage payments, credit card bills, division of community property/assets, etc.? Combined, the total household income provided an enormous bubble of affluence and comfort. Divided, the income is assymetrical and leaves the spouse with custody of the children in dire straits. The spouse with the children has no food storage, no idea how to address basic medical treatments, limited financial savings, significant mortgage and car payments, as well as other expenses that are beyond available resources. Emotionally, both spouses are a wreck. Their world has crashed and lay in pieces.
Sudden Death within the Family
A once healthy, young, and vibrant friend suddenly collapsed and died a few weeks ago. This individual worked and provided well for his/her family. The spouse's income added a second source of stability that sustained their love of traveling the earth together. The sadness of such a sudden loss has deeply affected the decedent's family and added financial strain on their previous lifestyle. The unanticipated and unexpected “premature” demise of such a wonderful person has impacted routines, commitments, plans, and pursuits, and crashed the world of the survivors.
Loss of Employment
Two successful professionals each recently received pink slips, dashing their plans of retirement within the next 3 years. This couple is married and their children are grown and in relationships of their own. This couple's income provided a comfortable lifestyle with a handsome home located in an ideal suburban neighborhood. One spouse was recently offered employment in another state which requires relocation. Their assets are within reach of being paid off completely, but the recent job loss requires breaching retirement accounts and accessing funds that were designed to provide for their lives after retirement. The penalties associated with premature acceptance of their own money are disheartening. Their plans on enjoying the almost daily visits from their grandchildren have been scratched. Their world has come crashing down.
Each of these three experiences finds individuals in specific age ranges. The first experience deals with a couple in their early thirties. The second couple's ages are 49 and 50 years old. The third couple's ages are 62 and 63 years old. Each of these couples is experiencing dramatic impacts to its current pursuits and future plans. The efforts which they have exerted over the years have established patterns of behavior and thought, not easily changed or erased. They will-of necessity-become modified. Each has been placed within the crucible of unfortunate timing. Worlds can crash irrespective of age and station of life.
Three suggestions come to mind in the analysis of each of these cases. As only one case is absolute in its resolution: death, my suggestions serve as a buoy to strengthen mental, emotional, and physical survival when worlds crash.
- Invest soundly in family relationships.
- Establish vehicles to secure sustenance & finances in a catastrophic event.
- Pursue a sound & moral entrepreneurial venture.
Invest in Family Relationships
Family is not necessarily the relationship of genetically-related individuals. Family is a function of the most fundamental society: biological and adopted. The ability for parents and siblings to interact, learn & teach, care-for, and invest in each other is priceless. Learning to become Self-Reliant as a family will do wonders for talent discovery and development, enhance individuality & self-esteem, and add variety & appreciation for each other. As a various strengths and abilities are enhanced, the collective bargaining power of this micro-society will greatly benefit the surrounding communities with which families interact.
Establish Vehicles to Secure Sustenance & Finances in a Catastrophic Event
Various types of insurances on houses, medical, personal belongings, vehicles, etc., promise returns on premiums paid. With the sudden death of a loved one, life insurance policies add a measure of peace to ease the emotional & physical strains of tragic losses. Insurances can provide valuable protection for those surviving and having to deal with the continued challenges of life.
Food storage, financial-savings (including items for trade such as precious metals), preparedness products, livestock, and other necessities provide sustenance for support & financing in times of need.
Skills that prove most valuable are those which endow their possessor with the ability to generate life-sustaining necessities. The establishment of a business which sells breads, hand-made goods, insurances, investments, real-estate, etc., have proven beneficial to spouses who have had to generate sustainable income due to the loss of their spouse, whose income had previously provided. The ability to successfully garden is another vehicle that helps many individuals and families to eat what they need and sell surplus to those who can benefit therefrom.
Pursue a Sound & Moral Entrepreneurial Venture
So many professionals are dedicated to their careers, yet they fail to pursue creative outlets of expression. Many times, talented forms of such expression can prove a sustainable business model. Risk-aversion seems to be the main culprit to entrepreneurial pursuits. Inadequate execution proves the demise of most start-ups that fail. A happy-medium can be found in the pursuit of small entrepreneurial ventures, outside of existing professional commitments. I know of a lady who works as a professional accountant for a large, successful firm. In the evenings she paints. She produces inspiring works. Her development of that painting talent began as she pursued an interest she always held in painting. As she pursued it in her free-time, she discovered that her talent was admired and coveted. It also proved lucrative. I know of a man who is now a chocolatier, although he previously worked as an attorney. His passion with confections outweighed his drive to lawyer. His creations were highly coveted as well.
Tragedy never strikes at a convenient time, unless you're from a certain part of Wall Street. In order to lessen the blow of such events, each one of us can take steps to strengthen our family relationships, establish security for those we love, and pursue creative entrepreneurial ventures outside of our current professional/vocational commitments. Employing these principles will not make us immune to any tragedy, but they will enable us to maintain our posture and help our loved ones maintain theirs as well.