Disclaimer: I do not give financial advice. This essay only expresses my feelings.
Personal wealth is a matter of comparison. If you compare my financial picture to a goat herder in the Sahara Desert, I am a multimillionaire. If you compare me to a member of the Fortune 500, I am poor as a church mouse. It’s all relative. But what I do have, I want to protect and watch over carefully.
I have spent my whole life deferring all this nasty talk of money to the man in my life. Not because I am incapable of understanding the intricacies of a budget, but because any marital discord I have ever experienced in my life has had something to do with money. Usually with him making it and me spending too much of it. My parents fought over money constantly. Frankly, money…or the lack thereof…scared the heck out of me. So, I avoided talking about it.
Then, Mr. Virgo up and died on me and left me to learn a lifetime of money management skills I simply did not possess. The first thing I did the week after the funeral was to switch to a financial advisor who specializes in women in transition…ie widows or divorcees. Danielle Howard was recommended to me by a fellow widow friend who was kind enough to help me set up and meet with her for the first time.
Danielle offers two lanes in her financial planning…secular and Christian. I was intrigued. The Christian approach teaches you to be a good steward of what God has provided for you. That’s the route I went with. I met with Danielle frequently at first because there was so much to learn. I wasn’t confident in my decision making skills at all. Danielle was patient, understanding, and nonjudgmental when I made SO many mistakes in the first two or three years after Mr. Virgo died.
I was told, “Watch your money.” “Don’t make any big financial decisions in the first year.” “Resist the urge to be overly generous.” But did I listen? Not very well. I tried to fill that hole in my heart with travel and shopping and generosity. Then I woke up and realized, I had to be MUCH more careful or I was going to run out of money.
The Stock Market is probably the singularly scariest entity in my life. I am convinced it is the Devil’s spawn. This last year has been wonderful because I could breathe and not worry about losing what little bit of money I have invested. It’s been a banner year for stocks. Then…the “Big Bang” hit late last week and early this week. When the market fell 1500 points on Monday, I panicked. I called Danielle and left a voice mail telling her I was totally freaking out and could she kindly call me back as soon as possible.
Then I fixed a cup of tea. I mean, what else could I do, right? Tea…and wait. Visions of selling pencils from a cup on the street corner started to float in front of me and my heart raced. Crazy…I know. But that’s what money does to me. Then I remembered all those meetings with Danielle at the Bluebird Cafe where we sat over coffee and she taught me about money.
“What would Danielle do?” I thought to myself.
I could almost hear her voice. “Knowledge is power.”
I went to the internet and started reading some of the reputable financial news sites to get their take on the biggest drop ever. I soothed myself with articles about market corrections and stabilization. How these things are expected and actually good for the market in the long run. The takeaway I got was…breathe. Don’t pull out. Just hold steady and ride the waves.
I’m pretty good at riding waves.
By the time Danielle called, I was feeling much more in control. I told her about going online and educating myself as to what was going on and what it meant. And I felt so empowered when she said, “Way to go! That’s really great that you took a proactive stance and learned all you could so you could make informed decisions.” I know it sounds so silly, but that was HUGE for me. I felt so…grown up and more in control.
This last year has been really interesting for me. Since downsizing and living a minimalistic lifestyle, I have found my spending to be under much better control. I’ve become more frugal, careful. I don’t NEED anything, really. If I accumulate, I have to go through downsizing. I really don’t ever want to do that again.
Widowhood and divorce can often leave us in dire straights. Knowledge really IS power so learn all you can about money and budgeting. And remember, dealing with corrections in the Stock Market is exactly like skiing in deep powder. You have to kick back and rest on the tails of your skis. If you lean too far forward, you’ll take a tumble.
Oh…and pray. Pray a LOT! ❤
“Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?”
Proverbs 17:16 NIV