Get Control of Yourself!
The government is shut down and while media would like to make this seem like it is the first time ever, it certainly is not. You might find it interesting to see a history of government shutdowns in the United States. Wikipedia has each event detailed online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdown_in_the_United_States#Federal_government. I was surprised to see the number of times we have been through a government shutdown. We can all certainly agree that bipartisan politics have become tiresome. Should we really have to concern ourselves as citizens with politicians putting undue stress and uncertainty into the lives of the American people? In a few weeks we will once again face another looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling. Over the years so much has been said about politics and out of control spending that I will not bother discussing this topic any further, but these times of uncertainty have instead turned my thoughts on what our clients can control.
A wise friend once told me “we should control what we can control and not worry about the rest”. This sage advice can be applied in so many situations. In this current government shutdown, I know many individuals have temporarily lost their jobs. In particular, on day three of the government shutdown I heard of one individual that was out looking for a job to pay some bills until he gets his job reinstated with the government. In this world one individual, for the most part, cannot control government shutdowns, debt ceiling limits, or a host of other political and regulatory risks. They cannot control terrorist attacks, great recessions, or acts of war. They cannot always control when they may lose their job or lose a house in a fire. In spite of all that we cannot control, we should not let that be our focus. There is still so much in the world and our daily lives we can control. Most of us can control how much we have saved in emergency reserves to help protect and provide for ourselves during a loss of job or a great recession. Many of us can control how much debt we carry and our ability to live beneath our means. Most of us can control how much we save each month. We can control how we emotionally respond to market swings and avoid panic-induced selling that has shown to devastate investors' long-term return potential. Focusing on the control that is within the reach of each individual, we can prepare and protect ourselves from that which we have no control. Usually in our personal financial lives, if there is something out of control, it is because we allowed it to get out of control not because it isn’t something we can control. Let us take these reminders of recessions, government shutdowns and debt ceilings debates to remind us to be ever more vigilant in preparing ourselves and our families against that which we truly cannot control.