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Personal Finance column: Disasters, Difficulties, Diversions – Do Your Dollars Differently


Fires and floods have thrown up literal detours for navigating our valley over the past several summers. In the same way, health conditions, career shifts, family dynamics, economic uncertainty, political environments, natural disasters, or even shifting through life seasons has unexplored territory, unanticipated idling, switchbacks that set you on edge as well as amazing vistas to take in.

We will encounter rough patches, roadblocks, and new terrain as we commute on this road called life. Inconvenient? Of course. Financially impactful? More than likely. Opportunity to enjoy the ride? Undoubtably.

You can be financially resilient and work around whatever obstacles you may encounter. Here are four tips to keep you headed in the right direction:

Appreciation. Simply put – an attitude of gratitude will provide a clear path through any financial challenge. A credit or debit card in your wallet, a financial app on your phone, or a link to your bank account on your computer puts you in the top 85% of the world’s wealth. Monetarily, we tend to focus on what we don’t have, or are missing out on – the inconveniences. Shift gears to a new perspective. Daily gratitude liberates you from FOMO (fear of missing out). It releases endorphins in our brains, cultivating contentment which reduces impulse purchases and improves financial decision making. Gratitude promotes generosity as we acknowledge those who have helped us along our journey.

Awareness. When was the last time you looked under the hood of your financial vehicles? You may have more than some or less than others. Your self-worth is not defined by your net worth. A savings account, home equity, business assets, cash value life insurances, investments, 401K or Individual Retirement plans are just a few of the vehicles that need to be tuned up. Given current economic environment and tax ecosystem, each one functions differently, and you want each of them operating at top efficiency. Upcoming blind curves include elimination of the “Step up in Cost Basis”, or capital gain tax changes. Inflation will slow down spending power. Clouds on the horizon that may turn into financial storms include tax laws sunsetting in 2026, and other legislation changes in motion right now. The same way a semi won’t make it over Independence pass, you want the right financial vehicles for whatever road you are on.

Acknowledgement. The terrain has changed. I-70 may be temporarily closed, but the canyon is forever altered. As you look for an alternative route, Google maps may throw you off and head you in the wrong direction. The destinations we have in our head may no longer be serving us. “Retirement” as your parents or grandparents knew it will not be the same fall season you will experience. Life expectancies are extending, cost of living is rising, ways of creating income streams are changing. From crypto-currencies to Greenlight (a debit card for kids) – everything is fluid. We can’t go back to doing the same thing expecting different results.

Accountability. What changes need to be made, who is responsible for making them and when do you want to get on the road? We have had talented and committed professionals who have fought fires and cleared debris to get us back to our “new normal”. Engineers and politicians continue to look at how to repair, strengthen and prepare for the next challenge alongside discerning new routes. Likewise, there are a team of fiduciary professionals who will help you through any disaster, difficulty or detour you may be experiencing on your financial odyssey.

No one seeks out difficulties, but research is showing the process of post-traumatic growth (experiencing crisis and working through chaos) opens the door to the “Phoenix Phenomenon”. Whether it is natural catastrophes, or in our personal lives, the opportunity to unfold a deeper sense of purpose and identity, greater appreciation of life and loved ones, increased capacity for kindness and the capacity to act for the greater good are some of the stunning vistas we will encounter.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA®. Wealth By Design is located at 76 Eagle Claw Circle, Glenwood Springs where they help you “Optimize Financial Possibilities and Unfold Life Potential”. www.wealthbydesign4u.com. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.