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5 Things You Can Control

If you’re a W2 employee working from home for the last month-plus, you might be worrying more and more about unemployment as time goes on. Uncertainty can drive just about anyone crazy.

You can’t control the outside world, but I wanted to talk today about some things you can do to feel more in control during these unprecedented times. Last week, we asked to hear from you, our valued clients and readers, about what you’re doing to stay busy (and sane!) during quarantine, and some of these ideas came directly from the replies we received.

  1. Review your legal documents. Pull out your wills, estate plans, and other legal paperwork you’ve got stored in the house somewhere. Actually go through and read them to check for accuracy. Has your marital status changed since you set these up? Do your children still need designated guardians or have they flown the nest? If your children are minors, do the guardians you appointed still make sense for the job? Do any of the children or beneficiaries in your documents have special needs? If so, maybe it’s time to think about a special needs trust. Is there anyone you want to disinherit? (Hey, all’s fair in love and quarantine, right?) It’s your money, and you can control how you leave it behind.
  2. Review your life insurance coverage. Maybe this doesn’t seem like the best time to think about death, but really, when is? Plus, while most folks equate life insurance with death, in my profession I tend to think about it differently. Buying life insurance means you love someone so much you want to take care of them after you’re gone. Should something happen to you, life insurance is the gift that allows your family to move forward as best they can without you.

Now, I know many of you have great life insurance coverage, and I want to give a shout-out to those of you who said to me, “Tell me how much I need and I’ll buy it.” Also, thanks to those who were hesitant to purchase life insurance due to costs because of a health issue, but still wanted to secure enough to cover your family’s adjustment period.

My big concern is for those of you who told me, “Oh I don’t need life insurance, she’ll just marry someone else.” Or, “The family can move to a smaller house.” Or, “We don’t need life insurance. He’s only going to to die if I kill him.” I know that most of these statements are made in jest (and yes, I’ve heard them all), but you really do have a need for life insurance. After all, dating is tough right now – “Hi, I’m Pandemic Phil!” And real estate sales necessarily immediate.

Or, did you tell me you’re fine because your employer offers coverage? Well, what happens if there is no employer? Right? Suddenly things that were a given aren’t anymore. It might be time reconsider our chat.

If, for any reason, you think you might need more life insurance, please give us a call. Now is a great time to review and update your coverage. Our team will help you figure out the dollar amount that’s right for you family.

  1. Organize your financial information. Once you’ve reviewed your estate plans and life insurance coverage, it’s time to organize the rest of your financial life. Whether it’s actual paper documents or online access to various accounts, you’ll want to make sure your children know who to contact about HR, your investments, your wills, the mortgage, your home and auto coverage, life insurance, bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, etc. Do you have cash stored behind bookcases, or in the bottom of the dryer (also a true story)? Make sure someone knows about it. We’ve all heard the sad stories of spouses getting sick and dying very close together. Make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  2. Update or complete your home inventory. You’ve just cleaned and organized every inch of your home from sheer boredom, right? Well, now that your financial life is in order, why not take some time to stroll through your spic ‘n’ span house and take some photos for inventory purposes? We’re going to be stuck here for a few more weeks at least, right? (Side note – a pandemic is not the time to have a yard sale.) Do you have any antiques, valuable rugs, or other heirlooms? Take a cell phone video and tell stories for posterity. That jewelry that’s freshly polished? Snap a photo! Basically, you want to document anything that you want to protect in the event of theft or a fire. Now could also be a good time to call up you property & casualty agent to secure a policy for these items.
  3. Utilize your skills for the greater good. You don’t have to learn a new language or become a Jedi Master. Psychologists are warning us that being under quarantine is stressful enough without putting undue pressure on ourselves to be superhuman. For some of us, just getting up and putting on some non-elastic-waist pants is a win for the day! But, I also encourage you to look for the things you can do to help out your fellow humans.

One client reached out to us and shared that, when she was a young girl, she learned to sew, but had not used that skill for many years. Well, over the last few weeks, she pulled that ability out of the shadows and started sewing masks to help protect her family and friends. What skills have you put on the back burner as life got in the way that you could dust off and hone up now? Maybe you’re a great cook who could prepare meals for older friends and neighbors (delivered at a safe social distance of course), or maybe you could simply mow someone’s lawn. One client, a single mom who works in health care and is reporting to work every day, told us she has twice come home to find that neighbors had mowed her lawn.

Personally, I’ve been trying to call, text or otherwise reach out and keep communication lines open with my friends, family and clients who might need a boost. Some might say one of my talents is the gift of gab, and I’m making an effort to encourage folks and lift up their spirits as best I can, even though I don’t have all the answers. If you’re a fellow extrovert, who do you know who might want some human interaction? Call your widowed neighbor, check in on the single, kid-free people who may be feeling isolated. We’re all in this together, and any small act of kindness takes our minds off our own predicaments. It’s a healthier place to be.

Once again, we want to hear from you! Anything you can share in terms of ideas for helping others and staying busy helps me create content that doesn’t have to do with the markets or COVID-19. We look forward to continuing to hear from you.

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