Dealing simultaneously with finances and trauma
I tend to think of myself as a generally positive-minded person, and hope that that is reflected in my professional capacity.
However, over the past few months I have met with several individuals all of whom are recovering from a major traumatic event while having to deal with their finances for virtually the first time in their adult lives. I found it incredibly painful to hear of their experiences, all of which were made much more extreme, as they had to confront their financial situation while immersed in a very raw state of grief or trauma.
My distress was caused by the fact that they were overwhelmed by something that could have been minimized. The all-consuming worry, distress and feelings of being out of control that surrounded their entire financial situation was devastating but largely avoidable.
So, with the hope and prayer that everyone will be in stable and healthy relationships until a very old age, I feel that I have to use this opportunity to emphasize how vital it is that both partners are aware of their finances, and that children are given the opportunity to learn how to manage their finances from a young age.
Generally, there is one partner in almost all relationships who deals primarily with the financial side of running the home. I’m not advocating that the other partner ‘take over’ this role. If it works well for you, continue this division of responsibility! However, both partners need to be aware of the main elements of their financial situation.
- Know how to access all the various accounts and holdings you may have – including security information such as passwords, personal questions and answers used to gain access, etc.
- Know where all documentation relating to your finances are held – whether they are paper or virtual files.
- Be aware of the general plan that you have set up regarding how to survive financial emergencies. From where will you access the funds to tide you over the emergency?
- Ensure that you have someone you can turn to who can help you keep afloat in an emergency. Involving a third party (professional or not) in your finances when things are steady and good can be invaluable if you ever need long term guidance.
General fiscal responsibility is not simple and takes time and effort, especially for those with less of a financial aptitude. Treat your financial knowledge the same way someone with a health issue would research his/her particular medical condition. Go armed with information to a specialist when necessary, and be careful about diagnosing or medicating yourself based on knowledge gleaned from the media or casual discussions with friends with little recent or relevant Israeli experience.
The most critical financial decision any of us can make is to take control of our money and not let it control us. Money should be a means to achieve the important things in life, to be used carefully as a tool. According to an old proverb, fire makes a good servant but a bad master – and the same can be said of money.
Making a conscious decision to take control of your money and use it efficiently will make all the difference between success and failure. Don’t procrastinate. Set up a time right now to sit down and start planning, or find someone to help you get started ASAP.
Some people feel less able to deal with the financial aspects of life. However, regardless of how financially limited you or your partner may feel yourselves to be, everyone can be aware of the points above and arrange to start educating the next generation. The plethora of financial resources available eliminates any excuse we might have to avoid educating our children financially. There is a wealth of information in both the printed press and cyberspace ready for you to tap into.
And then, if there is a worst case scenario, b’eH both partners and children will be fully able to deal with the short term financial fallout without exacerbating the trauma of the situation.