Welcome (back) to our Six Stones series. Our financial adviser, Jordan, is sharing as many tips, ideas and advice for people going through a divorce as a humble blog will allow. He’s staying away from specific financial advice – it’s all general advice over here, be sure to get personal financial advice before doing anything – but we hope you find some useful information in here as you navigate through/out of your divorce.
Our last few posts explored the impact – personal and financial, considered and unexpected – of somebody passing away. This risk, this final risk, looms over our day-to-day lives, leaving us reluctant to discuss it.
And that reluctance allows the risk to transform into fear and anxiety – which erodes our sense of comfort.
Well, we’re now moving on from that cheery topic (!) to a risk that has really, truly worried me in the past.
Be it sudden and violent, gradual and slippery, a horrible mistake or a tragic illness, a disability upends your life.
It can take someone from happiness to despair in a startingly short period of time. And that’s before we discuss the financial aspects – a disability will lay waste to a person’s finances with terrifying pace.
If nothing else, it means serious changes in a person’s life.
Which, of course, can have a significant financial impact too.
What Do I Mean?
When I say ‘disabled’, I’m viewing it through the financial and occupational lens that is the natural affliction of my profession.
Which is to say that I mean somebody made unable to work for medical reasons, either temporarily or permanently.
This might be because they’re now a quadriplegic following a terrible accident, or someone that’s broken their leg.
It can come about due to serious mental health challenges, critical illnesses or surgery.
It can be an immediate and shocking event, or it can be a slow and gradual deterioration.
Regardless of its nature, we’re talking about any medical issue preventing somebody from being able to work.
This brings us into the realm of a disability.
It’s About More Than Money
This is a simplistic view of what is a disability, and it’s smothered under the acute limitations of such a financial view.
People who aren’t working can, of course, still be disabled. And the experience of ‘disability’ is unique to each person, so any classification like this is inherently wrong.
Even using the term ‘disabled’ feels icky and dismissive of the full spectrum of experience people confronting these issues go through.
But…we’re working to help people achieve Cash Confidence and as we’ve outlined above, a key step on that path is addressing the financial risks they’re facing.
Hence, our limited perspective.
Of course, such an event is about much, much more than money.
But what money does do is provide you with options.
Options about treatment, work, recovery, equipment and the kind of life you’re able to lead now.
And not having funds reduces your options, it closes doors – at a time when you really don’t want to have any more limitations forced on you.
As with death, though, this is not something people think about very much. The mechanics of working out the impact of one’s own disability is not something we’re inclined to sit down and work through.
Which is why we just start with one question.
“What would happen to you if you were unable to work ever again?”
Not an easy question, of course, but by us asking it – by ‘making’ people confront it, we take these unspoken worries out of the shadows, drag them out and sit them down so we can shine the light on them*.
To be clear, we have no real stake in what those worries are.
We have our process and suggestions – which we’ll explain below – but the worries that spring into your mind when thinking about ‘disability’, they’re unique to you.
They’re different for each person and once we’ve illuminated them, it’s very common for people to relegate them from Worries to Never Mind.
But in my experience, for those Worries that do persist, there are – broadly – two buckets they fall into:
1. Your Old Life
These are all the things that, if you were to be disabled, you’d want tidied up and sorted out right away.
So this could be a mortgage, other debts, short-term medical bills, housing costs, moving costs.
By addressing these critical matters, you can clear out any of the baggage you might otherwise have to carry into the new part of your life.
2. Your New Life
While this is all about what you’re going to need into the future to live the best life you can, given your new reality.
This might be a particular wheelchair, renovations to your home, ongoing medical bills, replacing your income through to when you would have retired, school fees, retraining – anything that will help the trajectory of your New Life align with the one you had planned for your Old Life.
I’ll leave this post here – in our next one we’ll have Louise describe some of her thoughts as we explored these issues with her.
In the meantime, I’d like to ask you to think about what would happen to your life and future if you were unable to ever work again.
It’s a heavy topic, but it’s a mountain we need to climb on the way to Cash Confidence and you’ll find it really helps you feel more in control too.
* Just quietly – I believe a big part of the inherent value in seeing a financial adviser is having somebody ask you questions you’d much rather avoid. Coupling that with somebody to help you make changes to address the problems should give you a transformative experience. But, as I’ve said a few times before, I’m awfully biased!