Retrenchment. The loss of a job. Fraud. Legal Issues. Credit card debt. Identity theft. A worldwide pandemic. In the ‘blink of an eye’, any of these events can devastate up your well-crafted financial plan.
Unfortunately, life is filled with unexpected events which lead to disappointment, frustration, and surprise. So what do you do when your finances seem out of control? How do you navigate a series of financial challenges?
Generally in life, “10% is what happens and 90% is how you react.”
Memorise this quote, and remember it during a financial meltdown. So, how is it possible to survive a financial crisis? A financial crisis can be all encompassing. It permeates all areas of our lives, and at times the challenges may seem insurmountable. So how is it possible to survive? Here are a few tips that will help you navigate financial challenges.
- Switch to survival mode
Reduce your spending to absolute necessities. Write out a needs list and then cut out half the items on the needs list. This is the time to get the most mileage out of every cent. While your life might feel completely out of control this is still one area you actually can control. Spend carefully and intentionally. Shop around for the best prices for basic household goods. If possible, look around your home and find stuff that you can sell online for extra income.
- Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! Ask yourself “What is most important?”
What things do you value the most? Write the items you value on a list. For example, food, accommodation, transport … Take any money you earn or have, and apply it to the first item on your list. Go in order, no matter how loudly someone else says they need to get paid.
If you are not budgeting- you need to start. Find free budget worksheets online to help you get started. Budgeting is very important, as it allows you to be deliberate about where you spend your money.
- Count your blessings
Yes, count your blessings. Things may be terrible, bad, or even horrible. But there are probably many blessings in your life to be grateful for! Focusing solely on the problems and what you don’t have will only cause depression. Remember that around every corner there is a blessing, if you are looking for it.
- Acknowledge your emotions
You will experience a bunch of emotions from anger to bitterness to guilt to frustration. The emotions will impact your relationship with your spouse, your children, your extended family, your friends, and your faith. Did I miss anything? You may be tempted to lash out and find a place to release your frustration. Acknowledge how you are feeling. Remember that this is a season in your life. When you talk about your emotions, use phrases like, “I feel …” This makes others less defensive.
- Stay in control
You may be tempted to throw up your hands and say “I don’t care anymore.” Don’t give up. Take some time out to re-strategise. What are the things within your control? What contacts do you have? Who can provide support?
Where can you volunteer your services? Volunteerism gives a sense of purpose, allows you to try out new skills, contribute to your community and meet new people. Giving to others can reduce stress, combat depression and keep you mentally stimulated. Volunteering also opens your mind to new opportunities.
If you are struggling with debt, make sure you break the debt cycle by refusing to take on more debt. Digging yourself deeper into debt is not your solution. Don’t be a good person who makes bad money choices.
- Talk openly, communicate, and set goals
Financial difficulty brings a slew of questions: What am I going to do now? How will I pay the bills? What if “x” happens? While all these questions are buzzing around, talk with your spouse or family and communicate. Decide on a way forward in a direction you all agree to, and start moving in that direction. Commit to moving through the process together, not alone.
- Don’t be afraid to dream
If you have lost a job, this is a great chance to dream. What am I passionate about doing? What have I always wanted to try? This crisis might simply be a hidden opportunity. Look ahead and have some direction. The time may be right for turning a hobby into a business or even trying a new way to make money. Just be sure to ask the right questions to reduce risk.
- Turn to your faith
When the world seems to be falling apart you will need a Rock upon which to stand. We have all faced times when we feel that life is overwhelming, and seems out of control; faith allows us to see a way through. Continue or begin a habit of daily devotionals, prayer and meditation.
- Avoid blame
At this point, once things are damaged, it is not the time to figure out who is to blame. This will only serve to push those closest to you away. Your frayed nerves will do more damage than good if you let them run rampant. There will be a time for reflection and debriefing, but in the midst of the chaos you will do more harm than good if you start to play the blame game.
These circumstances might prove to be the greatest blessing in your life (in a few years). Journaling helps us learn all the important lessons that the school of life is trying to teach. If hindsight is 20/20, don’t you want to have a record that details exactly what was going on and exactly how the problem was resolved?
- Minimise pressure
If you allow it, financial concern can completely consume you. Schedule time in your day to focus your energy on other chores or tasks. Removing yourself from the worry and strain will help remove the burden.
While a series of financial tragedies can be extremely difficult, your responses during this time will determine a large portion of the situation’s solution.
What other things have you done to cope in the midst of financial devastation?
Agnes Chikukwa Hove, Brief Profile
Agnes finds fulfilment in being a Financial Wellness Coach. She coaches individuals, couples and organisations on effective personal financial management, and has effectively done so for the past 8 years. Agnes is a seasoned strategist who is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Sequor Consulting a Pan-African SME Development, Consulting and Advisory organization. She is also the Treasurer at African Women in Agriculture (AWiA) a women’s empowerment organization. She possesses a Master of Science (MSc) Degree in Strategic Management, a Business Management (BBA) Degree and a Diploma in Nursing.
Social media handles:
- Mortality and causes of death in South Africa: Findings from death notification, 2016. Report prepared by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). Publication date & time: 27 March 2018 @ 12:00. Access link http://www.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=1854&PPN=P0309.3&SCH=7308