Financial survival may take drastic steps to cut down on your expenses
The warning signs were there, isolated incidences at first, then gathering steam for a long time, but no one was talking publicly.
Statistics on drops in rental leases, declining work permit renewals, expatriate leaving-island yard sales, Bermuda residents losing jobs, lighter traffic in peak commuting times, large increase in second hand cars for sale, were either unavailable, or plain nonexistent.
There was little directly verifiable commentary on the number of redundancies (guest workers sent home being included).
Decreased demand for our “premier financial centre product” is forcing down home prices, home sales, rental occupancies, wages and number of jobs available.
Inflation marches on without a skip in beat, continuing to exact its human toll with increases in cost of living products needed to survive.
Sir John Swan did us all a favour, by calling our current economic situation as he sees it.
More individuals and their families are reporting job losses, some unemployed for almost two years.
Resources are running low. What more can they do now?
Having hope and remaining positive helps.
Proactive practical planning forces assessment of the worst-case scenario and works upward from there.
The following list includes some of the actions you should put in place now.
And, do you know what your worst case financial position is?
Yes, I know this is another blow to retail sector, but you are in survival mode now. Your only goal is to preserve your remaining cash.
This means literally what it says no spending.
You cannot afford to charge (or pay cash) for that new designer bag, buy lunches, dinners out, go on that vacation trip, or purchase lavish Christmas gifts. You need your health insurance more than treats.
Eat cheap. Eat less. There are many opportunities here to be more food self-sufficient.
Plastic pots or packing crate gardens for tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggie plants.
Chickens, loquats, papaya, bananas if you can't raise them, barter with neighbours and friends.
And talk to your grandparents, they know survival living.
Hoard cash. It is no surprise that the GoldStandardBermuda (and now Bermuda copycats) has been an instant hit http://www.goldstandardbermuda.com/.
Jewellery is wonderful, but it is not edible and does not pay the rent.
Every single item not needed should be converted into cash in order to build as large a cash cushion as possible.
Ignore investing in capital markets, i.e. mutual funds, stocks. Etc. Not a place you want to be right now. In fact, it is the last place that you want to be. You have enough uncertainty in your life without taking on more risk, and you don't need the stress of wondering whether you can get your capital back on a priority basis.
Life insurance. If you have it, can you borrow against the cash value of whole life?
If you can hang onto you life insurance by negotiating no payments, try to do so.
Your pension. If you meet the criteria for a financial hardship withdrawal, apply for it at the Pension Commission. It is your money, after all.
No lending to anyone either, unless you are pooling assets with your family.
No borrowing or increasing debt.
If you are offered a job, take it. Some money is better than none.
The longer you are out of work, the harder it is to get back into the employment circles.
You lose confidence in yourself, your skills, and your ability to earn a living.
If you have lost a job, have had trouble finding another that you want, take a job that you can get.
Sometimes, we have to take sidesteps in life to move forward.
Ramp up your Positive Attitude. Many are still not buying into the seriousness of our situation.
“I'm not taking just any job,” said one person.
That is true, but you may be left with just that, no job.
Financial assistance. The decision to seek financial help is a tough decision.
The folks there do try to be helpful, but be prepared to disclose all of your financial information.
Again, some money is better than none.
Move. Many Bermuda residents have right of abode in the United Kingdom, do not discount that opportunity.
Get mad and get motivated. If you don't like what is happening to your lifestyle, now is the time to become proactive.
Demand that your representatives take positive verifiable accountable action to turn this downward spiral around.
Do your own research to truly understand why we are in such a serious crisis.
A statement this week from Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, was not optimistic. The United States will continue to see high unemployment and it will be a long time before the economy rebounds to pre-sub prime prosperity.
When will we see economic improvement?
The central bank's latest forecast released Wednesday predicted that the economy will grow no more than 1.7 percent for all of 2011.
For 2012, growth will range between 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent.
Both forecasts are roughly a full percentage point lower than the Fed's projections from June.
The US unemployment rate has been stuck near 9 percent for more than two years. And the Fed doesn't see that changing this year. It predicts it won't fall below 8.5 percent next year either.
No matter what, life does go on. So enjoy the little things, the everyday wonders in life: a child's smile, sparkling seas, sunset when we know we will rise again to meet the challenge of another day.
I am looking for all cost savings self sufficient tips from you, dear readers.
These articles and the cost savers will be uploaded to the Moneywise Bermuda website under financial survival section.
Please feel free to share any ideas or family traditions you have.
I would be most pleased to feature them, with or without your names.
This is the second part of last week's article on Bermuda's economic crisis.
Last week's article can be read here. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20111029/COLUMN07/710299956/-1
Martha Myron, JP CPA CFP(US) TEP is a Bermudian and an international Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner in private wealth management.
She specialises in independent fee-only cross border investment, tax, estate, and strategic retirement planning services for Bermuda residents with United States and multinational connections, and US citizens living and working abroad.
She is a Masters in Law candidate in International Tax and Financial Planning and the Bermuda country contact at the American Citizens Abroad Tax Advisory Council. www.americansabroad.org
For more information contact mmyron[AT]patterson-partners.com or 296 3528 at Patterson Partners Ltd, Hamilton, Bermuda.