It seems as though we spend most of our lives trying to get money: money for the basics like food and shelter, money for luxuries like wide screen televisions and the latest greatest cell phone, and money for education or retirement. Most of us spend the best part of every day working at a job, trying to get money. We budget our expenses and bargain shop so we can save money. A lot of us buy lottery tickets to try to win money against insane odds.
Most of us are confronted every day with something we cannot get, or something we cannot do because we don’t have the money. We see our co-workers going on expensive vacations and driving expensive cars, and we say to ourselves, “Why them and not me?” We feel jealousy towards them, and may think that they benefit from the favouritism of the boss, or we may feel anger toward the God or fate that willed that we should be poor while others, perhaps less deserving, are rich. We may feel despondent that it seems impossible for us to improve our situation, or we may feel determined not to be defeated, and vow to get money no matter what. We may feel we are entitled to money, that we are owed it because perhaps we never had the luck, attention, or credit we deserved.
Yes, money can inspire many feelings, because of its power over us. Many people say that they cannot control their feelings and blame others for them, but that is false. It is possible for you to master your feelings about money, just as it is possible for you to master your feelings about anything else.
Most of us have been unlucky in love at one time or another: Remember the pain in your heart? Remember the pain of emptiness left by your lost love? Remember how you felt you had no value, because how could you have value, yet be treated this way by someone you cared for? Yes, you must be utterly undesirable and worthless, you feel, and so you heap sadness on top of sadness, until you are buried in sadness and you feel there is no way out.
However almost all of us do get out of that miserable place, because as time passes the sharp edges of the feelings get worn away. Your logic starts to take over and you start to realise what a miserable creep the person was, anyway. In the end you smile at the good memories and laugh at yourself for being so foolish as to so misjudge the other person.
The same is true of any loss, even financial. The five steps of grief are well known:
Denial and Isolation: you may deny the loss, in that you may pretend it didn’t happen or try to put it out of your mind
Anger: failing to escape fact through denial, you get angry or outraged: “How could this happen!?” or “Those evil bankers!”
Bargaining: “Please God, I’ll do anything.”
Depression: you realise nothing can be done to reverse your loss, so powerlessness and sadness take over
Acceptance: you rise from depression and look toward the future
Many of us have experienced financial loss in this difficult time, and many of us are going through some or all of the five steps above. The important thing is to realise in each step that this is not it, another step is coming. Feel the pain and go forward, and things will be better, just wait and see.
Your financial loss may mean a very different future than the one you planned. You can look back now and realise that it might have been a good idea to have a ‘Plan B’, that is an alternate plan, but the important thing is that now is the time to make a new plan.
You Can Only Start From Where You Are
Start here and move in a new direction: Just pick a direction and start moving. Maybe all your cunning and resources must be devoted to survival for the time being, maybe if you severely cut back on expenses you can still put money away for a brighter future. Assess your situation, get advice, and move confidently in the direction you choose, based on your logical assessment and trusted advice.
Things Will Get Better
This is not the first time the world economy has fallen in the toilet and it probably won’t be the last. Every other time, it has bounced back stronger than ever, and it will probably be the same this time. The trick is to minimise the damage to yourself, both emotionally and financially, until this bad time is over.