Managing family finances in tough times

  • Emergency planning: a temporary loss of income means you have to keep expenses to a bare minimum

    Emergency planning: a temporary loss of income means you have to keep expenses to a bare minimum


In the last few days, our Bermuda Government under the auspices of the current political party, and David Burt, the Premier, have taken steps to:

• Ramp up financial aid programmes for Bermuda residents and businesses

• Close the airport, bus, and ferry transportation modes

• Readied medical facilities and service personnel for the coronavirus uncertainty ahead.

This is their job — to provide safety, confident fiscal leadership to weather yet another economic storm, and comfort to Bermuda islanders challenged themselves to manage both their health and financial concerns.

Most of us have not experienced such an economic health disruption on a broad community scale in our lifetimes.

This time is very different from the 2008 recession.

This time, we are missing the normal ebb and flow of a vibrant business and tourist community.

This time, we can only be verbally communicative — from a safe distance.

This time, we’ve all got the same health concerns.

This time, it appears that we are meeting this possibly grave challenge together.

Circumstances beyond our control have also triggered very responsive individuals’ and businesses’ community collaborative efforts. So, it has been heartening to see those employers who have been severely restricted financially due to the abrupt cessation of normal customer traffic flow, still accept the responsibility for their employees’ health coverage while they are temporarily redundant.

Local banks are pitching in to ease their customers’ anxiety about making loan payments when their jobs are on the line or have already temporarily been closed.

Government is working hard to put an unemployment benefit lifeline in place, predicted to be legislated next week.

Dear readers, Moneywise is so sorry that any of you are having to face such unanticipated financial and health anxieties. It is small consolation to know that you have had to deal with these natural catastrophes before, random hurricanes being as familiar as the sea — in our exposed environment.

I am particularly concerned about whole families now needing to be home for children out of school. This is a difficult spot to be in — that taken together with all other family concerns — can be exhausting, but may be rewarding as well.

We don’t know how this part of our cumulative life stories will finish, but we can certainly hope that it will be far behind us, quickly.

Platitudes en masse don’t help either with dealing with every day: at home, not at work, restless, possibly bored children, and the need to take care of yourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well.

One suggestion that I would make — if you are lucky to still have your grandparents — talk to them:

• Find out what they did during times of privation

• How did they manage?

• What did they do to cope, mentally and physically?

• How did they prepare simple meals with few financial resources?

• Or keep everyone entertained?

• What was their secret to get through it all simply and serenely, to live to survive far into another day, another year, a lifetime of dignity and knowledge?

Yes, their life experiences are invaluable, and certainly, not always based on book learning. They used their wits, their intuition, and their sheer determination to get by. To more than make a life. Share these stories with your children, pass them on. They are to be respected because they are part of who we are.

Make some notes, start a blog, get them to tell you in their own words, or start a narrative on Facebook and get your children participating. You may have no idea what and how these amazing individuals managed:

• Without TV, or, heaven forbid, internet

• With little to no contact with the outside world

• With few financial resources or savings!

Yet, they managed, and more than, lived to tell the tales, embracing life. The wisdom of the ages, for real, in your own family.

A fascinating website and Facebook narrative of places and people that came before with reminisces and descriptions about the old survivalist days is:

Oda Mallory, JP, my friend — whom you may remember as Blondell with her own Sunday radio show may years ago. She has her own website, Bermuda Living Memories http://www.bermudalivingmemories.com/about.htm and is very active on Facebook as well. https://tinyurl.com/urbwddw Oda Mallory, JP.

Faith in yourself and your God matters. It is not prescient to ask if faith enters into this challenge? I think it does. If you feel that your higher being is on your side, you can cope with just about everything.

So, the Government leadership is doing their job, as best they can to assuage major economic disruptions, working for the entire community of Bermuda.

Now, you have to do your best for yourself and your family. In tough times, you have to think differently about money, cash, and savings.

You may not be able to save anything, but what you and your family really need is within you. Your personal power does not want or need all the stuff that you would normally be thinking about purchasing.

What you need now is safety, security, certainty, and a cash cushion to carry through tough times.

This is what you have to do now.

Practise economic survival triage!

You may not have much in the way of savings, or are entirely dependent upon your weekly, monthly paycheque.

Your goal is to review and cut all expenses as much as you can. If you have some rainy day savings, you want to be able to keep the capital intact.

No savings at all, then your resourcefulness will be challenged, because you will need to confront change in how you manage your money. But you can do this! See the Olderhood Radio Podcast linked below!

Sink or swim — the saying goes. Bermuda islanders know how to swim.

References

100 Activities To Do At Home During School Closures https://tinyurl.com/rsoeylb

Decreasing expenses in troubled times: https://soundcloud.com/rgpodcast/decreasing-expenses-in-troubled-times

Thanks for reading: Moneywise and other publications contributes to my beloved island community in memory of our father, Cecil E. Harris, the “Sewing Machine Man”, to the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen for this year 2020: $6,500 was donated to the Bermuda Reading Clinic in 2019.

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM, Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published Mar 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 21, 2020 at 12:48 am)

Managing family finances in tough times

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