A lot of people put off thinking and worrying about their financial picture. They figure they’ll think about it when they get their next raise, get a tax refund, have kids, want a house, have more time, or need to save for something specific. There’s always a “someday” around the corner when money issues will be dealt with. Until then, many people go about their daily business without thinking too much about their money. They probably have a vague feeling, in the back of their mind, that this is a bad idea, but other things seem more important at the time.
Then disaster strikes. A job is lost. Someone gets sick or injured. The primary wage earner dies. A car is wrecked. Those who have put off dealing with money until “someday” are suddenly faced with that day. They have to get a job, figure out how to pay the bills, or drastically cut the budget. They have to deal with things like insurance, estate papers, and job hunting. This all has to be done while dealing with the cause of the problem. Trying to sort out a budget while dealing with a sick child or spouse, for example, compounds the stress until it’s almost unbearable. At some point, many people crack and end up sick themselves.
Contrast this debacle with the person who has worried about their money all along. They haven’t obsessed about it every day to the exclusion of everything else, but they have dealt with their needs are they’ve arisen. They got life insurance when there was a need. They carry disability insurance and other needed policies. They saved up a year’s worth of expenses. They paid off (or never got into) debt. They made out their will, set up powers of attorney, and created living wills long before there was a need.
Now disaster strikes this person. Say their spouse or child gets sick. Instead of going into crisis mode over money, this person can turn their full attention to the sick person. They know that the money side of things is in place. There is a safety net there that allows them to take their eyes off of money for a while. They may be able to afford to take a leave of absence from work. They will be able to pay the medical bills. If the worst happens and the person dies, the arrangements are in place to handle last wishes, the estate, burial, and loss of income. Having the money side of things handled doesn’t make the medical crisis or death any less stressful or sad, but it does ensure that you don’t pile more stress onto an already horrible situation.
People who think about money all along have an advantage when disaster strikes. They can deal with the disaster with a clearer head than the person who is trying to deal with the disaster plus the money crisis. These people are able to go for a while without worrying about money. They’ve bought themselves the luxury of not having to worry about money while the rest of their world is collapsing. Eventually they will have to worry about money again. They will have to replace what was spent dealing with the crisis and adjust to any changes resulting from loss of income or death, but they are able to get through the immediate crisis first.
Don’t put off dealing with your money. Get everything taken care of now, before you need to worry about it. That way, if you have a major crisis you can focus on the immediate problem instead of freaking out about money. Your stress level will still be high, but not nearly as high as if you have to deal with both money and disaster.