Six Ways to Increase Your Financial “Pillow Factor”

Everyone wants to be able to put their head on the pillow at night and feel a sense of ease. No, we’re not talking memory foam or eider down; we’re talking peace of mind. We live in a world of mega-variables and the pandemic hasn’t done anything other than to add to our lack of comfort. Can you remember the good old days when you met friends for dinner and didn’t give it a thought or concern about rampant viruses?

Staring at the ceiling all night worried about your financial life and the potential threats to you and your family is not good for your health and happiness. While there are more variables than you can count, the feelings of instability is like a match hovering over a stick of dynamite: nothing good can happen.

Rather than sitting up all night in worry, you can take control of the situation to create restfulness and peace of mind.  With all the confusion and fear, it’s time to channel your thinking to a cogent plan. After all, planning leads to clarity and clarity leads to a purposeful route to solutions that align with your personal goals and the end of tossing and turning.

There are many paths to security. Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Having a suitable cushion of liquid savings for emergencies and unanticipated life events, such as job loss, significant cost for a home or car repair, uncovered medical expenses or the ability to help someone in your family who suffers an unexpected loss.
  2. Having your big risks covered. Nothing is more destabilizing to a family than the sudden death or disability of a significant earner. Where and how will the income be replaced when it is suddenly removed from the family’s cash flow?
  3. Keeping your debt in check. Nothing spells insecurity more than facing revolving credit card bills month and after month and never seeing an end in sight.
  4. Knowing your numbers. While dealing with budgets and financial issues might put you to sleep, nothing adds to greater restfulness than having at least a decent working knowledge of what’s coming in, what’s going out and how you’re moving towards your big goals; think retirement security, college for the kids or other meaningful pursuits.
  5. Putting your estate in order. Whether you have big bucks or just getting started, there are really good reasons for having a Will, Powers of Attorney and an Advanced Healthcare Directive. Put a big exclamation point on it if you have children. Making sure you’ve addressed issues like Guardians and Trustees, while it might never be necessary, reaches the highest magnitude of importance if it comes to that.
  6. Being able to talk to your spouse/partner/significant other about money. Let’s face it, we grow up with different understanding and experiences concerning money. Some face poverty and others are raised in wealth; some see flagrant spending, while others see penny-pinching as normal. We all grow into adulthood with a different set of money messages. Having a money conversation that doesn’t cause arguments, discomfort, accusations or frustration is an art, not a science. It requires the willingness and ability to listen and understand another’s point of view without judgement. Once you master the ability to talk about goals, fears, spending, savings and other related money conversations, life becomes easier.

While we cannot know what tomorrow will bring and we certainly cannot plan for every possible variable, getting the basics down is a great step forward in easing your mind. One of the factors to consider is not knowing what you don’t know when it comes to your financial life and that’s where working with professionals can really help. For example, working with a CPA to help you properly plan your tax strategies is really important. Having an unexpected tax bill is a sure path to sleepless nights. But it can be largely prevented by meeting with your CPA before the end of the tax year. Estate planning attorney’s are geared up and experienced in helping you navigate what can be difficult and confusing; especially since one must consider federal and state rules. Working with an experienced financial planner (I didn’t say stockbroker, insurance agent, wealth manager) who can help you put your plan in writing by understanding who you are, what you value and what likely scenarios you might be facing. Other professionals such as mortgage brokers and insurance agents can also be additive to your feeling of security and calm.

There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep and when you plan properly, you can rest assured that you will, uh, rest assured. Sweet dreams!