How to Prepare for a Recession From the Coronavirus

How to Prepare for a Recession From the Coronavirus

Dave Ramsey sitting at a desk hosting The Dave Ramsey Show

8 MINUTE READ

Recession. 

Just hearing that word can cause some people to clench their teeth, clutch their chest, and run to the bank. And with the impact of coronavirus being felt worldwide, you’ve probably heard rumblings to brace for a recession.

Yes, it’s a good idea to be ready—always. But we’re here to tell you how you can be prepared but not frantic. So, relax. You don’t need to build a bunker, you don’t need to stuff all your cash under your mattress, and you definitely don’t need to wear a tinfoil hat on your head.

Bottom line? Don’t freak out! Here’s how you can make sure you’re prepared for a recession, whether one is coming or not.

What Is a Recession?

Be honest: You were thinking it. If it’s been a hot minute since you’ve been in an economics class, allow us to get you up to speed.

 

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The National Bureau of Economic Research says a recession happens when there’s a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”1 This shrinking is measured by the GDP (gross domestic product), which is otherwise known as all the goods and services made and produced by the American economy.

Still with us? A recession is just a big word to describe when the economy stops growing. And instead of things eventually hitting an upward swing, the economic growth continues to shrink for two quarters (that’s six months, folks).

And when that downturn starts looking like a continued trend, people tend to get . . . uneasy.

Will the Impact of the Coronavirus Cause the Next Recession?

With global supply chains cut off, 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment in one single week, and people not leaving the house or spending their money—it’s easy to see why the economy could take a major beating.2 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects to see a recession of at least the same level as the recession of 2008, but the silver lining is they say we should see the economy recover by 2021.3

 

But remember, to call it a recession, we need to see a sharp decline in the economy for six months (two quarters). So, at this point, we aren’t in a recession yet. We still need to see how this whole crazy thing shakes out. And that’s going to take time. The important thing to remember here is no matter what the economy does in the months to come, this economic trouble is temporary.

With that being said, it is a good time to prepare as if a recession is coming.

How to Prepare for a Recession

We know talk of a recession on the rise can be scary. And with the economy taking a hit because of the coronavirus, a recession feels more real now than ever. Having concerns right now is valid. It’s logical. It makes sense. So hear us on that. But it’s important not to give in to all the fear out there. You should instead focus that energy on making sure your own personal economic standing is where it should be.

At the end of the day, you need to have your own house in order and ready to weather a recession. That’s going to matter a lot more than what’s happening on Wall Street or at the White House.

So recession or not, our proven plan remains the same: Live on a budget, pay off debt, save for emergencies, invest, and live and give like no one else.

If You Have Debt . . .

If you’re out of work or have a potential job loss on the horizon, go ahead and pause your debt snowball. After all your hard work, it probably pains you to read that (we get it too!), but for right now, you’ve got to prepare for a storm. Make sure you cover your Four Walls first—that’s food, utilities, shelter and transportation. These are the necessities you need to pay for before you do anything else. Stop paying any kind of extra payments toward your debt, but do continue to make the minimum payments if your Four Walls are covered (so your debt doesn’t go into default). The most important thing right now is to take care of you and your family and stockpile as much cash as you can during these uncertain times.

If you do have a steady job that’s secure right now and not impacted by the coronavirus or shifting economy, then you can keep working your debt snowball and paying extra on your debt just like you have been.

And remember, no matter how scared you might feel right now—do not take on more debt. You’re already in a rough patch, and debt is only going to make  it worse and leave you with lasting effects. Debt is dumb—even when you’ve lost a job, even when you’re scared, and even in a recession.

If You’re Saving . . .

Keep saving! Having an emergency fund is never a bad idea. Think of it this way: If a recession were to happen, you could rest easy knowing you have your emergency fund in place. Your emergency fund is the buffer you need between you and life all of the time, not just when there’s talk of a recession.

And right now is the time to make sure your dollars stretch even further. If you’ve been kind of, sort of budgeting all along, buckle down and give every single dollar a job to do by making a zero-based budget. Download our free budgeting tool, EveryDollar, to get started.

If You’re Investing . . .

When you hear the word recession, you might think you need to sell your stocks and step away from investing. But hold on, take a breath, and don’t do anything out of fear. We say it time and time again: Investing is a roller-coaster ride, and you don’t want to hop off the coaster while it’s still going!

Instead, wait. Ride it out. Stocks rise and fall all the time. And even if you’ve seen a loss in your investments, you’ll only feel that loss if you take the money out. So don’t pull your money out right now. Keep your investments where they are and wait for the upswing to happen. Stocks are basically on a huge clearance sale right now. If you continue investing, you’re buying stocks at crazy low prices. And when the market picks back up (and it will), you’ll still be on that roller coaster, smiling as you see the big returns roll in from your “sale” stocks.

Bottom line: Don’t pull your stocks because some dude on the news told you to do it. If you’re feeling stumped when it comes to investing, connect with a trusted SmartVestor Pro who can help you make good investment decisions and talk you through your options.

Get Your Own Personal Economy in Order

Remember, a recession means the economy as a whole is in a slump for six months. And at this point in the game, that hasn’t happened yet. But what is happening is your life. The money decisions you make every day impact you more than anything an “economic expert” could predict.

What have the last six months been like at your house? Think about it. Have your finances been in a recession of their own? If you’ve had a downturn or are currently out of work because of the coronavirus, now is the time to really dig in and get serious. Don’t wait for a recession to get your money in order. Get intentional about how you handle your money now.

And maybe you don’t even know where to start. It’s easy to spot a red flag and know things need to change, but it’s hard to know exactly how to make it happen. So set aside three minutes to sit down and take our assessment. Answer a few questions about your money habits, and get started with a plan you can put into action today!

Are you looking for something new to binge-watch these days? Maybe you’re on the hunt for a productive way to spend this two-week staycation you’ve found yourself in. Right now, you can get a free 14-day trial of a Financial Peace Membership! If you’ve always wanted to take Financial Peace University but could never seem to find the time—now is the perfect time to do it! And you’ll have access to tons of extras, like The Baby Steps app, EveryDollar Plus and our Ask a Coach feature. Plus, we’re offering Dave’s audiobook of The Total Money Makeover for $3.99. That’s a lot of life-change for two bucks. Get all the tools and resources you need right now to take control of your money and change your future! You can do this!

 

How to Switch Careers When You’re in Debt

How to Switch Careers When You’re in Debt

9 MINUTE READ

I’ve heard every excuse in the book for why someone can’t leave a job they hate. No matter the excuse, it always comes down to fear and doubt—fear of failing, fear that time has passed them by, fear of what others will say, doubt that they don’t have what it takes, or doubt that there is even a path forward.

But it’s time to address one fear that comes up again and again because of my connection with Dave Ramsey: I’m afraid to switch careers while I’m working on Baby Step 2. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll only be deeper in debt.

Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, Baby Step 2 is when you get out debt by using the debt snowball. You live on rice and beans, get a second and third job, and do whatever else you can to dump debt with gazelle intensity.

So, I get it—you don’t want to rock the boat by changing careers! It feels too risky, and that’s the last thing you need when you’re on Baby Step 2.

 

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But what if I told you switching careers while you’re in debt isn’t risky at all?

It’s time we quiet those voices in your head telling you to quit dreaming.

The truth is, you’re not going to rock the boat by switching careers. You would only rock the boat if you jumped while the boat was still miles away from the dock—and that’s one thing I would never recommend. Instead, you’re going to move the boat (which is your dream job) as close to the dock as possible before you even reach your foot out to step onto it.

When you take careful steps, not only does switching careers while in debt become possible, but it also starts to work out in your favor.

When You Should Change Careers

For three years I had the opportunity to host The Dave Ramsey Show video channel. That meant I was just steps away from the daily debt-free screams.

Every weekday on the show you’ll hear from an individual or a family who gave it all they had to pay off their debt. They’ll share their story, count down from three, and yell, “We’re debt-free!” live on the air. It’s hard not to get goose bumps when you hear those screams of freedom.

One thing Dave always asks these folks is what their range of income was during their debt-free journey. And you know what I’ve noticed in all these years of proximity to the show? Their income has almost always increased from the time they got serious about paying off their debt to the time they do their debt-free scream.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you increase your take-home pay, you could shave months off your debt-free journey!

That’s why I wholeheartedly believe that being in debt is no reason to stop dreaming about stepping into your sweet spot. There are plenty of great reasons to leave your current job, and being underpaid is definitely one of them.

How to Switch Careers the Right Way (and Without Losing Your Baby Step 2 Momentum)

Being on Baby Step 2 means you’ve probably stopped planning vacations, eating out at restaurants, and buying new cashmere cardigans. But one thing Baby Step 2 shouldn’t hold you back from is living out what you are called to do.

As long as you do it the right way, there’s no reason you can’t start pursuing your dream job today.

How do you do that? You create a strategic plan and take baby steps. Yup, we take baby steps here, too. Follow these three steps, and you’ll be moving at the right pace and in the right direction:

Step 1: Clarify and Verify.

Before you do anything else, I want you to make sure what you think you’d rather be doing for a living is actually your sweet spot. Remember, your sweet spot is the point where your greatest talent and greatest passion intersect.

That means, not only are you really good at it, but you also love doing it.

The last thing you want is to put all the time and effort (and possibly money!) into switching careers, only to end up miserable again in a few months. That’s why it’s so important to take some time to clarify and verify not only your sweet spot, but also that it’s definitely time for you to move on from your current job.

Start by making a list of your natural gifts, passions and values. How does that list line up with what you’re currently doing and what you could be doing in a different job?

Don’t be afraid to bring in a few people who know you well and will speak truth to you. Ask them if they believe what you’re thinking about doing lines up with any talents and passions they’ve noticed in you.

The best part about these exercises is that they lead to clarity. Clarity then leads to confidence, and confidence leads to courage.

Step 2: Research. Research. Research.

Research is a big part of moving the boat up to the dock before you step onto it. In this phase, I want you to ask questions like:

  • What positions can I find in my city that meet my sweet spot criteria?
  • What qualifications or certifications do I need to make the career move?
  • If the new job requires certifications I don’t have, how much is it going to cost me to get those?
  • How long will it take to do everything I need to do in order to get into that dream position?

You probably noticed that some of those questions involve dollar signs. Stay with me!  Even if you need to spend money for certifications or courses you need in order to get your dream job, it’s possible to do it without slowing down your debt snowball momentum.

In fact, I spoke with a woman on my show who was in this exact situation. She needed $1,500 to launch a website and platform that would help her move into her dream job. On her family’s tight budget, she had no idea where she would find an extra $1,500. Then I asked her, “Can you sell something?”

And do you know what happened two weeks later? Her awesome husband sold some of his shotguns, and boom! She had her $1,500 without ever stopping their Baby Step 2 momentum.

If moving to your sweet spot involves money:

  • Have a yard sale and sell everything!
  • Ask your friends or loved ones if they’ve got anything you can help them sell, then split the profits.
  • Pick up a side gig (or three).
  • Adjust your budget and make sacrifices where you can.

Folks, where there’s a will, there’s a way—and I know you can find it.

Step 3: Practice the Proximity Principle.

So you’ve clarified and verified your sweet spot and done all the research necessary to make a plan for how you’ll make the move. Now it’s time to practice the tried and true Proximity Principle.

The Proximity Principle says this: In order to do what you want to do, you need to be around people who are doing it and in places where it’s happening.

In this stage, I want you to spend all of your free time making connections and building relationships. Start looking for ways to volunteer in the industry you want to be in, shadow someone who’s doing what you want to do, check out local meetups, and be prepared to meet lots of people for coffee. When you’re faithful in this step, the right timing to move into your sweet spot will happen on its own.

Check out my book The Proximity Principle for a deeper dive into this strategy and practical ways you can put it into action.

Let me be clear for a moment: Because you’re not taking any leaps, you’re still going to be working at your old job while you’re practicing the Proximity Principle and finding the money to fund your transition. And that’s okay. You may hate that job today, but tomorrow, you’re going to turn hate into great.

Shift your mind-set here. When you’re on this plan, you’ll no longer think about your current job as something you hate, because now it’s a tool that is funding your future. So be grateful for the current position you have—it’s the reason you can take baby steps and switch careers the right way.

Don’t believe the lie that you have to wait until you’ve paid off all your debt to switch careers. If you’ve got the discipline to work hard, you’re willing to put in the hours when you’re off the clock, and you’ll commit to being patient and doing things the right way, you can celebrate living the dream even before your debt-free scream.

And if you need a little help taking control of your money, check out a Financial Peace University class in your area. This nine-lesson class can be taken online or in person, and it’s a proven plan that will help you budget, save money, and dump debt for good.

Press on—you’ve got this!

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

Should I Go Back to School to Get My Dream Job?

Should I Go Back to School to Get My Dream Job?

Should I Go Back to School to Get My Dream Job?

10 MINUTE READ

Do you ever feel like Garfield on a Monday morning? Miserable that you have to get out of a bed and spend the next five days at a job you hate—or in Garfield’s case: a life you hate?

Hey, you’re not alone. Seventy percent of Americans are unhappy with their current work situation.1 They’re just working a J-O-B to get by.

If they’re so dissatisfied, why don’t they just pursue a different career? It’s usually a combination of barriers like fear, doubt and debt that hold them back. Too often, people also believe that changing careers means dropping everything and going back to school.

I can see why the idea of going back to school would hold someone back from pursuing a career they’d love—school is intimidating! But you might be surprised to know that when people ask me if they should quit their job and go back to school to step into their sweet spot, my answer is almost always not necessarily.

Because the truth is, you should only go back to school if you have to. Every job requires skills and knowledge, but not every job requires a degree or certification.

Should I Go Back to School?

When I decided I wanted to go into broadcasting, I knew I couldn’t just drop my full-time job and enroll in college—I had a family to feed!

 

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So, I found an eight-week intensive class at a local broadcasting school that would teach me the basics before I went out to practice in a work setting. I had done my research, and I knew if I could just make the right connections and prove my talent, my degree wouldn’t matter.

Don’t just assume you have to go back to school to do the job you want to do. Do your research. And if you’re still not sure what’s required, don’t look to a job posting or a well-meaning neighbor to tell you what you need. Talk to professionals who are already working in that field or the ones making hiring decisions.

“Don’t just assume you have to go back to school to do the job you want to do.”

—Ken Coleman

Because in case you haven’t noticed, HR culture is changing. More and more companies are dropping any form of degree requirement from their job postings.2 That should give you hope!

Now, there are still some dream jobs out there that do require going back to school. Let’s take a quick detour to talk about the few careers that do require an advanced education.

What Should I Go Back to School For?

Some of the professions that require a degree—and for good reason, probably always will—are careers like:

  • Doctor
  • Pharmacist
  • Lawyer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Psychologist
  • NASA Astrophysicist

Do you see where I’m going with that list? It’s the highly technical, highly specialized careers that require many years’ worth of book knowledge (versus life or work experience) that actually require going back to school.

If your dream job is one of those that does require going back to school, let me give you some quick tips on how to do so the right way:

1. Find an affordable option and don’t go into debt.

Before you go searching for the most prestigious program out there, think to yourself: Have I ever asked my doctor where they went to medical school?

Of course you haven’t! You don’t need to attend an Ivy League school or move across the country to get your degree.

If possible, start with community college and then transfer to an in-state, four-year university. This will help you save the most money and keep you from taking on student loans. I promise your education will not suffer because you turned down the fancy school.

2. Consider delaying or going part time.

If you don’t have the money saved to go back to school (or other financial support), consider putting the dream on hold for a year or two so you can save up—not only tuition costs, but also living expenses.

You should also consider taking classes part time so that you can continue working your day job. It might take you twice as long to finish, but when you do graduate, you’ll be glad you own that degree (rather than owe Sallie Mae for it).

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to what I’m really passionate about: explaining why, more likely than not, you can get your dream job without stepping foot back in the classroom.

What Types of Jobs Don’t Require a Degree?

I recently spoke with a woman on my show who wanted to be a project manager. She called to ask me if I thought she should go back to school and get an MBA.

My answer? No!

Okay, I was a little bit nicer than that. But c’mon, getting an MBA might be impressive, but it’s not going to make you a better project manager than someone without one. If you’ve got the chops (you’re extremely organized, you know how to delegate and hold people accountable, etc.), then a degree shouldn’t hold you back from being the best project manager out there.

There are tons of other professions that you’d be surprised to know do not require going back to school. Here are just a few:

  • Accountant/Bookkeeper
  • Writer
  • Marketer
  • Event Planner
  • Human Resources Recruiter
  • Medical Assistant
  • Office Manager/Executive Assistant
  • Graphic Designer
  • Social Media Manager
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Dental Hygienist (only requires an associate degree)
  • Commercial Airline Pilot
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Software Developer

Does that list shock you? Unfortunately, we’ve been fed the lie for far too long that you need an education no matter what career you want to pursue.

It’s simply not true. There are plenty of great paying jobs out there where the knowledge and training needed can easily be found in the real world.

How to Get Your Dream Job Without Going Back to School

So, you’ve done your research and realized you don’t need to go back to school to change careers. But now you’re asking, “How exactly do I get my dream job without having any experience?”

I’m so glad you asked.

It all comes down to the Proximity Principle: In order to do what you want to do, you have to be around people who are doing it and be in the places it’s happening.

You just start learning, doing and connecting. Here’s what that looks like:

1. Alternative Education

Maybe you don’t need a four-year degree, but there is some education required for what you want to do. No problem. Consider if you can learn the new skill through:

  • Trade schools
  • Online courses
  • Certification programs
  • Webinars
  • Free content, like podcasts, books and blogs
  • Conferences or seminars

A great example of someone who should consider this is a software developer. Going back to school to get a degree in computer science would be a waste! A 2018 study found that 65% of developers are at least partially self-taught, and one-third are completely self-taught.3  

Find a three-month coding boot camp and save yourself four years of nonessential courses. Trust me, you’ll do yourself a favor to think outside the box.

2. On-the-Job Training

Our culture underestimates the power of the entry-level job. We glamorize the big shots in the business without considering the years these folks spent working their butts off from the ground up.

We all have to start somewhere. It’s about what you do with your time that matters.

So, don’t be afraid to take on an entry-level job, even if it feels like a demotion. Entry-level positions are the best place for you to learn, practice, perform (the craft) and grow.

While you’re working that job, keep these two things in mind:

  • Even if you’re starting from the “bottom” of a company, make an effort to get in close proximity to people who work in the position you want. Tell them you want to learn from them and offer to take small projects off their plate. Find a way to help them while getting experience in the process. It’s a win-win!
  • Did you know that you can get paid to learn how to do the job you want to do? More and more companies are launching last-mile programs.4 These are boot- camp-style intensive programs where employees can learn the exact skills needed for the job they want to move into while working in entry-level positions at the company.

Growth takes time. Be patient while you do what you can with what you have.

3. Making Connections

Creating purposeful connections with people who are in the position you want to be in might be the most important step you take toward getting your dream job.

I actually work with an accountant who has a degree in exercise science. That’s not the type of degree you’d expect an accountant at a large company to have, right?

Ryan was working as an aquatics director at a local YMCA when he realized working with numbers and computers was his real passion. It just so happened that one of the regular swimmers at his YMCA was a finance professor at the local university. Ryan taught himself Excel by watching YouTube videos, and eventually, that professor helped him land a job in finance at the university.

There’s a reason people always say, “It’s not what you know—it’s who you know.” But if you want to build a powerful web of connections, it’s not just about who you know, but also who they know.

You can build a web of connections by:

  • Informing your inner circle (close family and friends) about what you want to do and where you want to go.
  • Asking your inner circle to think about people they know or places they have access to that they would be willing to connect you with.
  • Compiling a list of your own personal connections, like former coworkers, former classmates, church members and even people in your recreational sports leagues.

This web of connections is useless unless you actually meet with them. I know meeting with these people in person can be intimidating for the introverts out there, but you just have to accept that it’s part of the process.

This doesn’t have to be formal—it can be really laid back—but it should be in person. Approach every meeting as if you were building a meaningful relationship, and follow these three rules:

  • Listen and learn.
  • Be humble.
  • Add value.

Oh, and if you end up making a connection with someone who works at the company you want to work for, make sure you include their name on your resumé when you submit an application. Remember, a resumé without a relationship is worthless. Check out my resumé guide for more tips on how to write the perfect resumé.

Folks, I’m willing to bet that the majority of you don’t need a degree to step into your sweet spot. I want to encourage you to find another way to learn the skill, look for entry-level positions that will teach you while you work, and build that powerful web of connections while you’re at it.

I’m confident you’ll be stepping into that sweet spot—and loving Mondays again—in no time.

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

5 MINUTE READ

I was sitting on my front porch, drinking my morning cup of coffee, and scrolling through Twitter when I came across a video that stopped me in my tracks.

I bet you’ve seen it—the video quickly went viral and got millions of views.

It’s about a 14-year-old boy named Tim Bannon who was born without arms. In the video, he attempts a 20-inch box jump at a summer camp he attends for limb-different youth. Take a look:

 

Powerful, isn’t it?

What caught my attention about this video was how clearly it demonstrated the power fear can have over us. If we allow it, fear will consume us and hold us back in every area of our lives. From careers to relationships, no part of your life is safe from fear’s trap.

But notice how I wrote allow it. Fear is real, and it’s paralyzing. But at the end of the day, we have what it takes to overpower fear so we can reach our highest potential.

 

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This video taught me that no matter what emotions we experience when facing fear head on, we’ll be better equipped to know what to do with those emotions if we’re able to identify them. Identifying the emotions will help you go from being a passive participant in the situation to an active one.

If you rewatch the video, you’ll witness Tim power through three emotions as he conquers his fear of falling. Instead of caving into the roller coaster of emotions, he was able to channel each emotion to propel himself forward—and I want you to be able to do the same.

As you can see from Tim’s experience, you’ll experience a range of emotions when trying to conquer a fear. Let’s talk about three of those emotions.

1. Agony

Fear torments us, doesn’t it?

In the video, you can see Tim agonizing over his fear of falling as he attempts an exercise that typically involves momentum from your arms.

He hesitates during the first couple of jumps he takes, which keeps him from succeeding. That’s because when you’re focused on the possibility of failing, you’re not able to put forth all the effort and power you have within.

What’s interesting is that Tim’s fear of falling during his attempt is—in a way—not reasonable. There are two large men standing on either side of him, ready to catch him if he falls. But he’s too focused on the agony to realize he’s believing a lie. Because the truth is, if he messes up his footing, he won’t really fall. He’ll be just fine!

Don’t we all do that? We focus on where we might fall short and what might make us fail, rather than putting our focus on what is actually true in that situation.

The truth in your situation might not be as obvious as two large men standing by you, ready to cushion your landing. But I’m willing to bet there is a truth that can replace the lie you’re believing—and that truth will help silence the agony.

If you’re unsure about what the truth is in your situation, talk with people you love and trust. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see beyond your fear—but a trusted outside perspective can help clear up some of that fog.

2. Anger

After experiencing the agony of the fear, you might begin to feel angry. Just like Tim, you get frustrated because any failed attempts affirm the lie you’re believing.

This is probably the most important emotion of the three, because anger could be what either makes you or breaks you, depending on how you channel it.

When you’re feeling anger in the process of conquering your fear, you have a choice between one of two actions:

  1. Retreat and let the anger overpower you (the flight response).
  2. Turn the anger into power to propel you forward (the fight response).

The second is exactly what Tim does in the video. After agonizing over the fear of falling and getting angry at his failed attempts, he’s had enough. He turns that anger into power, jumps harder and higher, and conquers the box jump once and for all.

3. Awe and Astonishment

Do you know what it feels like to finally conquer a fear? It’s exhilarating. You experience a rush of emotions that quickly overwhelms you. You stand astonished, because now you have proof that you have what it takes to do the thing you were afraid to do.

And no one can take that away from you.

You can see the awe and astonishment on Tim’s face when he jumps off the box and falls straight into the arms of his coach, tears streaming down his face.

He gets affirmation from himself and from others that he is, in fact, able to accomplish more than he thinks he can.

And the same is true for you.

Whatever fear you’re struggling to conquer, I want you to know that it’s normal to experience agony in the beginning, and that the agony might turn into anger. But that’s when it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with that anger. Which will you choose: fight or flight?

Only one of those choices will lead to the overwhelming exhilaration of crushing the fear that once haunted you.

Press on, folks—you are more capable than you think!

 

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

Coronavirus: What to Do if You’re Out of Work

Coronavirus: What to Do if You’re Out of Work

A calculator and documents laying on work desk.

12 MINUTE READ

Coronavirus—aka COVID-19. It has flooded our social media, nightly news, and has even made its way into some of our communities. It goes without saying that this thing has created mass hysteria and panic across the globe. But if you’re looking for that here—you won’t find it.

We haven’t lost our hope, and you shouldn’t either. We’re going to get through this, folks. Emotions are running high surrounding the coronavirus, and it feels like there’s so much uncertainty. But you don’t need to live in fear.

Yes, this virus has impacted all of us, whether it’s by coming down with the sickness itself, becoming filled with anxiety from the news, or being out of work (and out of a paycheck). We’re all feeling it in some way. And with 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck,1 it’s easy to see why the loss of even just one paycheck could be devastating. 

Will You Miss a Paycheck Due to the Coronavirus?

It’s no secret that things are shutting down all across the world. And if your workplace has closed its doors and isn’t offering pay, then it’s time for you to (calmly) regroup and get some things in order. The thought of being without a paycheck can be overwhelming. But we don’t want to scare you. We want to give you sensible, level-headed actions to take. But first, step back and take a big, deep breath.

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Did you do it?

Okay, good.

Now let’s look at some things you can do to keep you on your feet—even without a paycheck.

7 Things to Do When You Miss a Paycheck

1. Get on a budget.

If you aren’t already living on a budget, the time is now! Making a monthly budget will show you exactly where your money is going—no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Without a budget, you really can’t make every dollar stretch because you might not even know how much money you have to work with. Plus, your budget will show you places where you can cut back and save money (more on that later). And you don’t have to rely on a yellow lined notebook to crunch the numbers. Give our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, a try and see how simple budgeting can be.

If you don’t have any income right now, then make a budget based on the amount of money you do have. If you have $600 left to your name, budget out exactly where each of those dollars will go. It’s time to squeeze every last penny out of what you’ve got.

If you still have cash coming in from your spouse’s job or some other source, then adjust your budget to reflect that. Maybe the two of you usually bring in a combined $5,000 a month. But with the loss of one income, you’re down to $2,500 a month.

Adjust your budget to live off of that one income for the time being. It might be tough to switch up your lifestyle, but you’ve got to make temporary sacrifices to get through this.

2. Take care of the Four Walls.

When the going gets rough—like it is right now—you need to focus on the things you really need to survive. We call these the Four Walls. Forget the student loan payment, the vet bill and the cell phone bill (for now). The Four Walls are your priority, so pay for these things in this order before anything else:

  1. Food
  2. Utilities
  3. Shelter
  4. Transportation

These are the basics you need to keep going so you can live to fight another day. And it’s really hard to fight when your family doesn’t have food, isn’t it? So if there’s no food in the fridge, don’t pay the cable bill.

If there’s any money left over after you take care of the Four Walls, make a list of what else you need to pay and tackle that in order of importance. When you run out of money—that’s it. Someone on the list isn’t getting paid, and that’s just how it goes. But it sure as heck isn’t going to be the checkout lady at the grocery store. Remember, that’s priority number one!

If you’re renting and having trouble coming up with cash right now, don’t stress out. Reach out to your landlord and be honest with them about what’s going on. They might be able to work something out with you for the time being, but they can’t help if they don’t know. Be up front with them and pray for the best.

3. Pause your debt snowball.

When you’re just trying to make it to another day, you don’t need to pay extra on your debt. Instead, focus on piling up cash as high as you can. This will help with peace of mind until you have income again. Once life gets back to normal and everything is okay, you can pick up where you left off with your debt snowball.

If you’ve been chipping away at your debt, you probably don’t want to see all your progress come to a screeching halt. But the reality is, if you’re not getting paid, then you’re in the middle of a crisis. So pause your debt snowball. If it’s within your budget to keep paying the minimum payments on your debt, go for it. But remember, the Four Walls come first. Don’t let your family go hungry for the sake of your FICO score.

4. Sell stuff.

Get radical. No, we don’t want you to go selling hand sanitizer on eBay for $50 a bottle. But this is the time to sell what you can to bring in extra cash. Maybe that’s your jewelry, clothes, baby items or even the extra car sitting in your garage. If you know you can part with something and get extra cash in your hands—do it! Well, within reason.

5. Get a temporary job or start a side hustle.

If you’re out of a paycheck because of the coronavirus (or your business is taking a serious hit from it), that’s a real thing. But you don’t need to freak about it—just go get some part-time work.

With so much being shut down right now, there might not be as many traditional ways to make extra money out there. Your local hotels, movie theaters and restaurants probably aren’t looking for help. So think about who might be hiring more right now. Look into driving for Amazon (hello, doorstep toilet paper deliveries), picking up takeout food for Postmates, or dropping off grocery orders with Shipt.

And even if one of those doesn’t work out, you can still take up odd jobs around your neighborhood (think cutting the grass, picking up leaves, babysitting, or dog walking). Be on the lookout for opportunities that will add a few extra bucks to your pocket. In this situation, every little bit helps.

6. Look for things to cut.

This is the time to cut back on any unnecessary expenses that you can. Tighten it up. Stop or pause your subscriptions (think Netflix, Hulu, meal delivery kits, specialty makeup boxes). They aren’t going anywhere, and you can easily pick them back up once everything blows over and you have extra cash to spend again.

Don’t forget to call your cable, internet and cellular providers to see if there’s anything they’ll do to work with you during this time. Be open and honest, and let them know your situation. You’ll never know if you don’t ask! And since you already have them on the line, go ahead and downgrade or pause your service for now. None of these things fall into the Four Walls, remember?

And have you heard of this thing called “social distancing?” It means people are encouraged (and want) to stay away from each other right now. Which can make it easier to not spend money. Sports venues are closed, Disneyland is closed—heck, even bars are closed. And even if places are open, this is a time when most people are staying home anyway. Your friends probably won’t pressure you to go hit the town this weekend. That’s good news for your budget.

We know making sacrifices like this can feel like adding insult to injury when you’re already hurting. But keep reminding yourself: This is not forever. We’re going to make it through this! You’re making temporary sacrifices to tread water until this storm passes and you’re back on your feet again.

7. Connect with your church or local community groups.

Let’s be clear here: Try to do everything in your power first before you seek help like this. Make sure you cut back where you can and take any temporary jobs to work hard and get back up on your own two feet.

But, in times of real need, don’t be too prideful to ask for a helping hand. Many churches and community groups in your area exist for situations like this. They want to help you! If going to a food bank means your family is fed, then do it.

Working the Baby Steps During the Coronavirus

If you’re out of work right now, you might be wondering what this means for where you’re at in the 7 Baby Steps. So let’s break it down step by step:

Baby Step 1

If you were just trying to save up your starter emergency fund when all the coronavirus madness hit, we feel for you. This kind of thing is why having an emergency fund is so vital—because it puts a buffer between you and the unexpected stuff that pops up in this life.

If you’ve already saved up that $1,000, you might need to pull from it to make ends meet right now. That’s okay! That’s what having an emergency fund is for. And if you haven’t hit your Baby Step 1 goal, it’s time to shift your focus. Right now, you just need to pile up as much cash as you can (and don’t stop at $1,000). Save whatever cash you can!

Baby Step 2

If you’re without work, put Baby Step 2 on pause. It’s time to get serious about covering your Four Walls and dip into your emergency fund to do that if you need to. Remember, that’s why it’s there.

And if you’re smack-dab in the middle of paying off your student loans, guess what? All interest on federal student loans is currently on pause. That’s right—the U.S. government announced that for right now, your unpaid federal student loans will not collect interest.2

But whatever you do right now, do not grab a credit card and do not take out a loan. Don’t listen to some passerby who says you should get a personal loan because rates are really low—that’s stupid advice.

You don’t want to make a reckless, knee-jerk decision based on anxiety and panic. When you’re facing the harsh reality of not getting paid for who knows how long, it’s easy to go into freak-out mode. But don’t get suckered into a credit card or loan—that will only make things worse.

As scary and uncertain as things might look right now, loans and credit cards aren’t your safety net. They aren’t an emergency fund. They aren’t going to be your savior and solve all your problems.

Believe us, taking on new debt will only make things worse, not better. A bad financial decision in this season can have a lasting impact on your money and haunt you for years to come.

Baby Step 3

The good news for those of you in Baby Step 3 is that you’ve been working on saving up an emergency stash to get you through 3–6 months’ worth of life’s expenses. If you need to pull from that emergency fund, you have some money there to use. Stop for a second and let that bring you some peace of mind. It’s not all doom and gloom, because you’ve gotten out of debt, and you’ve put in the hard work to prepare for a storm.

Baby Steps 4–7

If you’re investing in Baby Steps 4–7, you’re probably watching the ups and downs of the stock market like a hawk. We get it, but just remember this—ride it out. Don’t pull your investments and hop off the roller coaster. Stick it out. Call up your investing pro and let them help talk you off the ledge. And whatever you do, don’t cash out your retirement accounts.

But in these chaotic times, there’s more you can do than simply look out for number one. You know that whole “live and give like no one else” thing? This is the perfect time to do it. Be generous. Look for the ways you can help your neighbor and offer up some much-needed hope to the people around you. Do you know a family who needs some food? You can have groceries and essentials delivered straight to their door. Call your local church or community organizations and ask what you can do to help those in need. We are blessed to be a blessing, and that’s the mantra you need to take up now more than ever.

Don’t Lose Your Hope

You might be losing a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean you need to lose your hope too. Hang in there! If you’re not getting paid right now and you didn’t have an emergency fund to begin with, we’re not here to beat you up about it. But once the clouds have cleared and you get that paycheck again, you need to make getting out of debt and building an emergency fund a priority. Use our free three-minute assessment to figure out exactly what Baby Step you’re on and where to begin.

Wherever you’re at right now, just know you’re not alone in any of this. We’re all taking this thing one day at a time. Whether your job just got cut today or you’re scared to walk out your front door—we can get through this. We already are getting through it. Moment by moment. Day by day. Hope springs eternal. And that hope is worth a lot more than a giant stash of hand sanitizer and bulk toilet paper.

 

How to Manage Your Money (and Business Finances) During a Crisis

How to Manage Your Money (and Business Finances) During a Crisis

How to manage your money during a crisis written on a notebook surrounded by money and a laptop and pen

3 MINUTE READ

There’s a lot of information coming at you these days—everything from the right way to wash your hands to how far to socially distance yourself from another breathing human. And in the middle of all the information overload is your money. Let’s break down what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your money in a crisis:

What Should I Do if My Income Is Stable?

  • DO keep right on working the Baby Steps like you have been.
  • DO pay your bills on time. This isn’t a free pass to skip out.
  • DO use your stimulus money to help you crush your goals—use it to speed up the Baby Step you’re on.
  • DO NOT pause your debt snowball!
  • DO NOT cash out your 401(k). You won’t even see the losses unless you take your money out of the market—so don’t!
  • DO NOT defer (aka delay) your student loan payments—keep attacking these with a vengeance.
  • DO NOT stop paying your mortgage.

What Should I Do if I Was Laid Off/Furloughed or if My Income Is NOT Stable? 

  • DO pause your debt snowball! You need all that extra money on hand right now.
  • DO make sure your Four Walls (food, utilities, shelter and transportation—in that order) are covered, then pile up cash as high as you can.
  • DO make the minimum payments on your debt (if you can swing it).
  • DO cut out all unnecessary spending from your budget (think need versus want).
  • DO look for a part-time job wherever you can find one!
  • DO use any stimulus money to cover your Four Walls and then toss anything leftover into your emergency fund.
  • DO NOT take out a payday loan! Run as far from these snakes as you can.
  • DO NOT get a HELOC (home equity line of credit)—it will only dig a deeper hole.
  • DO NOT stop paying your mortgage. Shelter is one of the Four Walls, so make sure it stays at the top of the list.
  • DO NOT cash out your 401(k) unless you’re facing foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Should I File for Unemployment?

  • DO check in with your state government to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • DO keep looking for work (even if you’re getting unemployment).
  • DO NOT file for unemployment if you can bring in at least 50% of your income by working another job (part time or full time).

What if I Run a Business or Church?

  • DO take advantage of the payroll tax deferment offered through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • DO NOT take out a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan! It’s too difficult to get them forgiven, so don’t mess with it.

We know there’s a lot coming at you fast these days, but step back and take a breath. You don’t want to make bad decisions with your money just because of this crisis. So calm down, think things through, and be wise as you take each careful step. You’ve got this!

And if you need a good push to get you started, right now you can get a free 14-day trial of Financial Peace! You’ll get access to all nine Financial Peace University video lessons and a ton of extras like The BabySteps app and EveryDollar Plus. If you’ve always wanted to take FPU but didn’t have the time—well, there’s no time like right now.

Do you run a business or church and are looking for useful (and free) resources to help you navigate this crisis? Check out our Entreleadership business resources center.

How to Deal With Loneliness During Social Distancing

How to Deal With Loneliness During Social Distancing

Social distancing and loneliness.

8 MINUTE READ

The calls for “social distancing” are echoing around the world. For lots of people, it’s no longer an option—it’s a government mandate. Communities are banding together to protect the most vulnerable, and people are avoiding public spaces and large gatherings. Restaurants and stores have shut their doors. Many workers have relocated to their homes, while others have been laid off. The demand for other jobs (nursing, delivery drivers, etc.) has gone through the roof, placing significant stress on workers, systems and established routines.

We’re being forced—ready or not—into a fight against an enemy that we can’t see, hear or fully understand. We are throwing punches in the dark. Like annoying, overbearing little league parents, everyone is yelling at us and telling us what to do, armchair quarterbacking every step as if they know how to handle things. But in reality, we’re up against something we’ve never faced before. And worse, it feels like we’re fighting alone.

“It feels like we’re fighting alone.” — Dr. John Delony

And when I say “we,” I’m not being cute or trite. I’m experiencing this too. My family has been out of town for the past week as this has unfolded, and I’ve found myself scared, lonely and feeling out of control . . . and I’ve been a crisis responder for years!

 

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Here’s the truth: Sudden fear, confusion and instant disconnection is a toxic recipe for panic, anxiety, misplaced rage and addiction. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or how tough you think you are, the only way to get through the coming days/weeks/months is to remain connected to one another. Loneliness will cripple us physically, unwind us mentally, and make it impossible to be spiritually whole. Loneliness is poison.

“Loneliness will cripple us physically, unwind us mentally, and make it impossible to be spiritually whole.” — Dr. John Delony

When our brains recognize that we’re disconnected and lonely, it sounds the anxiety alarms. The anxiety alarms can feel like accelerated heart rates, waking up throughout the night, emotional outbursts, and obsessively checking any and all electronic devices in an effort to find connection. When our alarms are ringing at full blast, we make dumb decisions (toilet paper for a respiratory illness, anyone?). But the damage goes beyond being impulsive. Chronic stress actually impairs our immune system.

The only thing that silences the alarms is connection with other people.

“The only thing that silences the alarms is connection with other people.” — Dr. John Delony

Obviously, we’re facing a big challenge. We’re quarantined at home, and the places where we’d normally connect—church, school, gyms, coffee shops—are shut down. But I’ve got some good news for you: Even during a global pandemic, it’s possible to take care of yourself, fight loneliness, and enjoy meaningful connection.

7 Ways to Deal With Loneliness During Social Distancing

Below are the seven things I’m doing right now to quiet the alarms and keep myself sane while being totally alone (my family arrives back home in a few hours, and that will present another set of both joys and challenges . . . I’ll blog on that soon). These are not theories or cheesy steps you’d find on Pinterest. These are the actual things I’m doing to keep myself well, whole and connected during these strange times. I’m sharing them because I believe they can help you during this time too.

Here we go:

1. Limit social media and news consumption to twice a day. Period.

From this point forward, I’m only checking the internet in the midmorning and late afternoon. For me, this even includes TV and movies. While it feels like things are changing minute by minute, they aren’t. Protect your heart and mind and just turn off the electronics.

2. Call and have in-person conversations with friends and family.

Over the past few days, I’ve spoken with Todd, Trevor, Craig and Buddy—four of my old college roommates. I’ve talked with some old friends, Melissa and Jeff, and several folks from my work community. I’ve used FaceTime and spoken to family members and mentors. And of course, I’ve called my mom every day. Connecting through voice or FaceTime—not texting—is critical. Texting passes along information—it doesn’t offer connection. Call your loved ones.

3. Take multiple walks outside every day.

Nature is important for your heart, mind and body. Movement is critical for physical and mental health. Seeing other people (from a safe distance) is healing. I’m going out of my way to greet every person I pass on the street, I’m walking long distances (regardless of the weather), and I’m lifting weights in my home every time I pass by the dumbbells. Get outside and move.

4. Read both fiction and nonfiction.

Somehow, we’ve developed a perception that reading fiction is a waste of time. This is ridiculous. Picking up good fiction books allows our frontal lobes (the part of our brain that processes information and solves problems) to take a break from trying to fix everything. Reading allows us to enter new worlds, detach, and use our imaginations in ways that television doesn’t.

5. Serve in any way that you can.

Service to others allows us to keep our community strong and grounded. And of course, service will look differently for each of us. It might look like ordering a pizza and tipping the driver an obnoxious amount of money. Or it might be sending money to your barber, even though he’s not cutting your hair this month. If you don’t have the extra cash, service may be handwriting letters to people in your church. It may be checking on your neighbors and making sure they have what they need. Or it may just be grabbing a trash bag and picking up trash on your neighborhood walk. Whatever it is, find ways to serve. Start right now.

6. Do a quick checkup of your financial and physical needs.

I took a realistic inventory of what my family and I need to take care of our financial needs, both now and over the next few weeks. We’re facing two possibilities: that this gets wrapped up soon, or it gets worse in the coming days. There’s a fine line between wise planning and pathological hoarding. Before you go to the store, make a list of what you need, stick to it, and honor others in your community by only getting what you need. And if you have a working water hose, you don’t need bottled water.

7. Pray and practice mindfulness.

This situation has reminded me in a very real way that I control very few things in my life. I can only control my thoughts and my behaviors. That’s it. Prayer keeps me grounded when everything feels out of control. If you have an established faith or church community, carve out extra time to pray, and even host virtual prayer gatherings to bring people together. You can also practice mindfulness through any number of meditation apps. Or simply put away your devices, sit still, breathe, and focus your thoughts on being present where you are. Also, keeping a gratitude journal has numerous mental health, spiritual and wellness benefits. Do it.

We must honor the calls to be good citizens and practice social distancing. We must also do everything in our collective power to remain connected to our friends and loved ones, to our physical, spiritual and mental selves, and to our local communities. We must be intentional and kind. And I know that we can do this. If you have existing mental health challenges, or if you’re experiencing fear or anxiety in a way that feels debilitating or scary, please reach out to your local medical doctor or mental health professional immediately.

A new reality is upon us. I’m convinced that if we accept this break from our previous routines with gratitude and openness, and we become deeply intentional about connecting with ourselves, our roommates, our families and our communities, we will emerge from this more deeply connected to the people we love than ever before.

About John Delony

Before becoming the newest Ramsey Personality, Dr. John Delony worked in crisis response and as a senior leader at multiples universities. He holds two Ph.D.s—one in counseling and the other in higher education. He has dedicated his life to helping people find hope and light in a broken world.

For more encouragement and inspiration, follow Dr. Delony on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

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Dealing With the Disappointment of Canceled Plans and Missed Milestones

Dealing With the Disappointment of Canceled Plans and Missed Milestones

Is Everything Canceled?

9 MINUTE READ

“Corona is mean . . . I wish it would go away,” cried my four-year-old daughter, Josephine.

Such is the understatement of little children.

It feels like everything’s been canceled—relationships, milestones, celebrations, holidays, sporting events and family gatherings. Millions and millions of jobs have been lost, grandmas are unable to hold new grandbabies, and evidently gas is so cheap that they’ll pay us to fill our cars up at the pump. The COVID-19 virus has not only disrupted our routines, our health and our toilet paper supply chain, it has also yanked and frayed the threads of the very fabrics that hold our communities together.

The darkness hit home recently when a long-time friend of mine unexpectedly lost her father to non-coronavirus medical issues. They were forced to hold a tiny graveside service, and she couldn’t hug her elderly mom as they lowered her father into the ground.

Coronavirus is more than mean, my dearest Josephine. It’s destructive and a thief. It’s evil.

Grieving What We’ve Lost

The emails started coming seven or eight weeks ago. The mash-up of braces, poofy dresses and awkward photos (otherwise known as prom) has been canceled. There are no graduation ceremonies for spring 2020. Trips to see grandma are postponed. Weddings are pushed back. The 2020 Badminton Open Championships are canceled (I don’t know who, but someone, somewhere is sad about this . . . ).

 

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The loss of these cultural milestone markers is significant and real. Long journeys, like academic programs, religious experiences and weddings, need the emotional release of a final ceremony. And they’ve been taken away. These events—and the more recurring ones, like concerts and church services—form the foundation of our communities. No wonder it feels like things are being torn apart.

My family and I are grieving big things and small things, just like everyone else. My son turned 10 a few weeks ago. He spent his birthday party alone. Sure, we were all quarantined with him, and some extraordinary neighbors dropped unexpected gifts off at the front door. But I hurt watching him smile his way through what must’ve been a lonely birthday.

And to make things worse, I attempted to cut my son’s hair (I never knew I could miss a barber shop this much), and it looks like I shoved him headfirst into a lawn mower.

But the pain gets deeper.

A friend of mine had a beautiful new baby that her mother can’t hold for months. And another friend was just starting to head back out on the dating scene after a tragic divorce when she found herself locked up in her one-bedroom apartment. Her apartment now feels like a sheetrocked jail cell. The first whispers of loneliness had not fully quieted down before the quarantine began.

In an unfortunate twist of heartbreaking solidarity, I’ve heard from a number of you from all over the country and come to find out that I’m not alone. We’re all experiencing loss on an unimaginable scale.

How Should We Respond When We’re Disappointed?

So, how do we help ourselves and our loved ones deal with the loss of important events and milestones under the cloud of a global crisis? Here are six suggestions on how to grieve and support yourself and your loved ones during uncertainty.

1. Give yourself permission to grieve.

Don’t try to gloss over or numb these feelings. Name them and feel them. Be angry. Have a hard cry. If you’re saddened by the grief and loss of a loved one, write your lost family member letters, stay connected to your community, or get virtually plugged into a church or group.  Connect and talk about your loss with your close friends. Facetime, grab a glass of wine, and let them know you’re sad. Hear their losses. Sit in your grief, but don’t bathe in it . . . and then make a plan for being courageous.

2. Give others permission to grieve.

I often say that your friends and community are your emergency fund for life. People need you right now—be an open heart and ear to your loved ones who are hurting. Their pain is real, even if you don’t feel it. Different people will grieve lost events and moments differently, and many of them will not personally impact you. Choose to be kind and gracious.

For instance, I’d rather set my eyebrows on fire than go to a friend’s graduation. I mean, seriously . . . Do you remember anything from your graduation? But they’re important to the graduate and their family. Ceremonies like graduations are a shared cultural experience, so honor them.

3. Don’t compare your grief to someone else’s.

It’s tempting to try and minimize our grief by comparing it to others who are “worse off” than we are. We end up getting stuck in an endless cycle: Yeah, we had to cancel my son’s birthday party, but one of my friends had to postpone her wedding. Yeah, I had to postpone my wedding, but at least I still have my job. Well, I lost my job, but at least no one in my family has died. And on and on it goes . . .

The problem with this approach is that we deny ourselves the permission to grieve. Plus, it might seem noble, but it’s not actually doing anyone else any good. Minimizing your sadness does not make someone suddenly feel better somewhere else in the world. The truth is, whether you lost out on something small, like a birthday party, or something big, like hugging your mom at your dad’s funeral, we’re all grieving (unless you’re the CEO of a toilet paper company).

Own your grief and don’t apologize for feeling sad.

4. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.

I know this feels uber-cheesy and Dear-Diary-ish, but it’s backed by research, and it works. I don’t care how tough or cool you are—write down your feelings.

Seeing your feelings on paper allows them to stop spin-cycling in your head and become manageable. It takes away some of their power and gives you some much-needed space between your emotions and your ability to think.

5. Push your creativity into overdrive.

The Covid-19 crisis is giving us the opportunity to get creative and scrappy, and it allows us to reimagine what prom, holiday services, family time and special gatherings might look like. These are legacy-defining moments that will be talked about for decades. Grandkids will talk about how grandma and granddad got married on the computer, or how great-granddad threw a special prom for their mom at home.

Here are a few inspirational stories I’ve come across in my own life:

  • My buddy in Texas is setting up a father-daughter dance in their living room in place of prom.
  • Our church held our Good Friday candlelight service on Zoom, allowing the kids to be involved in ways they normally wouldn’t have been able to.
  • I bought a cheap, leaky boat and have taken my kids on some sketchy, memory-making lake trips.
  • A friend of mine attended a Zoom wedding with tons of guests and lots of laughter, and they said it was much, much cheaper!

This isn’t the time for being too cool. This is the time for being creative and making hundred-year memories. Truth is, I guarantee you that my prom date doesn’t remember my name or what I wore. But if my buddy Kevin decorates his living room and holds a three-song dance for his daughter who’s a senior in high school—a cheesy-mini-prom with dad and daughter, and they dance together—her grandkids will tell that story.

It’s important to note that some losses cannot be reimagined for history. Holding newborns, hugging loved ones at funerals, and losing family and friends causes dark, deep pain. Creativity cannot replace these stolen moments, but it can help you process grief and start the long, restorative journey of finding beauty and making meaning.

6. Choose optimism.

Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” We get to choose optimism. We get to choose to look for beauty in the rubble. We get to choose to be kind to our neighbors and be gracious with our coworkers. We must not allow pessimism, loss and grief to become our identity. These are unquestionably difficult times, but we get to decide how we respond to them.

And remember, whining doesn’t help your grieving. Posting mean things on the internet or inventing ugly motives about others doesn’t smother the burning embers of grief. It pours gasoline on them. Choosing to live in the darkness doesn’t honor your losses and will keep you from healing and moving forward. Get outside and into the light—literally—and feel some joy.

Joy and optimism are a choice, not a personality type. I want to say that again: Joy and optimism are a choice. Lean toward joy and healing, even in the midst of pain. But do it slowly, of course—don’t be fake or deny the difficulty . . . But remember that there’s always, always light at the end of the tunnel. And take the time to laugh alone, with your family, or with roommates. Put on some good stand-up comedy or a Seinfeld episode. Laughter is good for the soul.

Not All Good Things Are Canceled

While it feels like every meaningful event is being canceled, we have to remember that so many beautiful and important things are still happening in our daily lives. It’s important to transition from grieving a cancelation to seeing an opportunity to appreciate the things we still have.

Love and kindness have not been canceled.

Laughter has not been canceled.

Sunshine, rain and the woods have not been canceled.

Playing catch with my son or building the Frozen castle (for the 10th time) with my daughter has not been canceled.

Rocking to ’80s hair metal and dancing to ’90s country music has not been canceled.

Creativity and innovation have not been canceled.

The pandemic has changed all of our lives. Let’s grieve when necessary, support one another whenever we can, get creative and find alternative solutions, and lean toward joy, even in the dark.

We’re in this together.

 

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Invest in Mutual Funds

How to Invest in Mutual Funds

11 MINUTE READ

You’ve heard for years that Dave recommends investing in mutual funds. It sounds like a great plan, but after researching mutual funds on your own, you feel overwhelmed and you’re lost in the lingo. Front-loaded, end-loaded, over-loaded—there are a lot of details and it’s no wonder you feel confused.

How are you supposed to build a solid nest egg if you can’t make sense of your options? The best place to go for a complete explanation of your investing options is a financial advisor. But keep this in mind: While your advisor provides education, you’re ultimately the one who calls the shots when it comes to your retirement.

What Are Mutual Funds?

Before we look at how to invest in mutual funds, let’s define what a mutual fund is. When an investor buys a mutual fund, they contribute to a pool of money to be managed by a team of investment professionals. This team selects the mix of stocks, bonds, money market accounts, etc., included in the mutual fund based on the fund’s specific objective.

The major benefit of mutual funds is they allow investors to invest in many different companies at once. If you have a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, like a workplace 401(k) plan or a Roth IRA, that’s the easiest place to start investing in mutual funds.

 

Be confident about your retirement. Find an investing pro in your area today.

How Do You Make Money From Mutual Funds?

When mutual funds increase in value, the profit is shared with the investors. That distribution can then be reinvested to buy more shares of the stock. Those shares make more profit, which can be reinvested and on and on.

The most important factor in making money from mutual funds is investing consistently for a long period of time. How long you keep your money invested is even more important than what funds you choose to invest in!

You want to use a buy-and-hold strategy when investing in mutual funds. Don’t try to time the market by buying and selling based on trends. Choose investments with a long history of above average returns, and stick with them for the long haul.

Are Mutual Funds Safe?

One of the biggest perks of mutual funds is diversification. Because your investment is split between a variety of companies, you don’t have to worry about your account tanking because a single stock underperforms.

But keep in mind, even with the instant diversification mutual funds offer, there’s no guarantee of a certain return when you invest in the stock market. That can be intimidating, but exposing your investment to some level of risk is necessary if you want your money to grow over the long term.

When you ride the waves of the stock market, you’ll have ups and downs. However, historically, most people have seen returns in the long run. Take the S&P 500, for example. The S&P 500 tracks the performance of stocks from the 500 largest, most stable companies in the U.S., and it averaged a 12% annual return from its creation in 1923 to 2016.(1)

If you’re saving money that you plan to use in less than five years, don’t invest it in mutual funds. Just put it in a savings account. But if you’re wanting to consistently invest for the long term, mutual funds are a great option.

How Should I Invest in Mutual Funds?

Follow these simple steps to make smart decisions about investing in mutual funds.

1. Invest 15% of your income.

Wealth-building takes hard work and discipline. Dabbling in investing here and there won’t get you far. If you want to invest for your future, you need to plan on investing consistently—no matter what the market is doing.

Dave recommends investing 15% of your income for retirement. After you’ve paid off all debt except for your house and built a solid emergency fund, you should be able to carve out 15% for your future. It might feel like a sacrifice at first, but it’s worth it. Once you get in the habit of investing consistently, you’ll realize you don’t even miss that money!

There’s no shortcut to building wealth, but there are strategies that can help your money go further. For instance, investing in tax-advantaged accounts through your workplace, like a 401(k), is a great way to get started. And if you get a company match on your contributions, even better!

If you have a traditional 401(k) at work with a match, invest at least enough to get the match. Then, you can open a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, the money you invest in mutual funds goes further because you use after-tax dollars—which means you won’t have to pay taxes on that money when you withdraw it in retirement. It’s all yours! The only downside to a Roth IRA is that it has lower contribution limits than a 401(k). This year, you can invest up to $5,500 for yourself and an additional $5,500 for your spouse if you’re married.(2) It’s possible to max out your Roth IRA without reaching your 15% goal. If that’s true for you, go back to your 401(k) and invest the rest of your 15% there.

Have a Roth 401(k) with good mutual fund options? It’s even simpler. You can invest your whole 15% in that account.

2. Diversify your investment portfolio.

Dave recommends four types of mutual funds and spreading your investment equally across each type. Keeping your portfolio balanced helps you minimize your risks against the stock market’s ups and downs.

Each fund type can respond differently to the same event. That means if one fund is down, another fund could be up.

Brant Spesshardt, an investing professional in Raleigh, N.C., helps explain the four mutual fund categories Dave talks about and the reasons why he recommends them:

    • Growth and income: These funds create a stable foundation for your portfolio. Brant describes them as big, boring American companies that have been around for a long time and offer goods and services people use regardless of the economy. With the growth and income, be sure to look for funds with a history of stable growth that also pay dividends. You might find these listed under the large-cap or large value fund category. They may also be called blue chipdividend income or equity income funds.
    • Growth: This category features medium or large U.S. companies that are experiencing growth. Unlike growth and income funds, these are more likely to ebb and flow with the economy. For instance, you might find the company that makes the latest “it” gadget or luxury item in your growth fund mix. Common labels for this category include mid-capequity or growth funds.
    • Aggressive growth: Think of this category as the wild child of your portfolio. When these funds are up, they’re up. And when they’re down, they’re down. Aggressive growth funds usually invest in smaller companies. “So small-cap funds are going to qualify—or even a mid-cap fund that invests in small- to mid-sized companies,” Brant says. But size isn’t the only consideration. Geography can also play a role. “Aggressive growth could sometimes mean large companies that are based in emerging markets,” he adds.
  • International: International funds are great because they spread your risk beyond U.S. soil and invest in big non-U.S. companies you know and love like Trader Joes, Firestone and Gerber. You may see these referred to as foreign or overseas funds. Just don’t get them confused with world or global funds, which group U.S. and foreign stocks together.

3. Don’t chase returns.

It can be tempting to get tunnel vision and focus only on funds or sectors that brought stellar returns in recent years. But Brant cautions against that strategy.

“Nobody can time the market,” he says. “Investors just have to remember you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. It’s long-term, and you want to try to keep your investments as simple and as boring as possible.”

Before committing to a fund, take a step back and consider the big picture. How has it performed over the past five years? What about the past 10 or 20 years? Choose mutual funds that stand the test of time and continue to deliver strong long-haul returns.

Watch now: Dave explains his investing process in a recent episode of The Dave Ramsey Show

4. Brush up on investing lingo.

You don’t have to be an expert in investing lingo to choose the right mutual funds. But a basic understanding of some of the most common terms will help. Here are a few to get you started:

    • Asset Allocation: The practice of spreading your investments out (diversifying) among different types of investments with the goal of minimizing investment risk while making the most of investment growth.
    • Cost: Be sure to understand the fee structure associated with using a financial advisor. Again, talk with several pros to compare commission structures before you make your decision on a which financial advisor you’ll use. Also, pay attention to the fund’s expense ratio. A ratio higher than 1% is considered expensive.
    • Large-, Medium- and Small-Cap: Cap stands for capitalization, which means money. To most investors though, it refers to the size and value of a company. Large-cap companies carry lower risk, but you’ll make less money. Medium-cap companies are moderately risky, and small-cap companies are the riskiest—but have the biggest payoffs.
    • Performance (Rate of Return): You want a history of strong returns for any fund you choose to invest in. Focus on long-term returns, 10 years or longer if possible. You’re not looking for a specific rate of return, but you do want a fund that consistently outperforms most funds in its category.
    • Portfolio: This is simply what your investments look like when you put them all together.
    • Sectors: Sectors refer to the types of businesses the fund invests in, such as financial services or health care. A balanced distribution among sectors means the fund is well diversified.
  • Turnover Ratio: Turnover refers to how often investments are bought and sold within the fund. A low turnover ratio of 50% or less shows the management team has confidence in its investments and isn’t trying to time the market for a bigger return.

That being said, having a financial consultant help you can really improve your investing portfolio.

5. Find an investing professional.

If Dave has said it once, he’s said it a hundred times: Never invest in anything you don’t understand. No one cares about your future as much as you do, so it’s in your best interest to take charge of your own mutual fund education.

But sometimes you need a little help with translation. And that’s where an investing expert comes in handy.

A good investing professional can help you sort through the lingo and determine whether the mutual funds you think line up with your objectives really do. Be clear about your goals up front to ensure you and your pro are on the same page before you make selections.

Remember to take your time and interview several SmartVestor Pros before you make the decision. Hiring the right financial advisor can make all the difference!

What if you know a lot about investing, and enjoy researching your options on your own? Do you still need an advisor? Yes! In fact, even Dave has an advisor!

Think of your advisor as a coach, yet you call all the shots.

6. Stay involved in your wealth-building plan.

You should always know how your money is invested and what role it plays in helping you reach your long-term goals. After all, this is your future we’re talking about!

Stay engaged with how your funds are performing and regularly rebalance your portfolio. Over time, certain mutual funds can start to take up more and more room in your investment portfolio, which can expose you to risk. Remember, you never want your eggs to all be in one basket. You want that risk spread out evenly between the four types of funds.

You should always be open and honest about any questions you have in your regular meetings with your financial advisor. They can help you create a wealth-building plan and forecast your retirement income based on your whole financial picture.

Talk With an Investing Advisor

If this sounds like a lot of information to dig through and compare, you’re right! The good news is you don’t have to do it all alone. You can work with a SmartVestor Pro who understands that you’re in charge of selecting your own retirement investments.

Find your pro!

What Is Impact Investing? And Is It Worth It?

What Is Impact Investing? And Is It Worth It?

What Is Impact Investing? And Is It Worth It?

7 MINUTE READ

Whether it’s saving the whales or feeding the hungry, we’re all passionate about something.

We all want to make a positive impact on the world around us, and we’re willing to give our money and our time to help causes we’re on fire for. But what if you could do more than just give to a cause? What if you could invest in it, too?

That idea isn’t new, but it’s gained a lot of steam in recent years, especially among younger investors. All this has led to the rise of an investing trend called impact investing. You may ask, “Hogan, what exactly is impact investing?” That’s a good question. Is it really making the world (or your investing portfolio) better off?

That’s a good question, too. Let’s break it all down.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing aims to benefit society and provide a profit for the investor by investing in companies, organizations and funds that are aligned with certain issues, causes or values. Think of it as a middle ground between traditional investing and charitable giving.

Just how big is impact investing today? Roughly $12 trillion is currently invested in socially responsible investments (including impact investments), which represents about a quarter of all professionally managed assets in the U.S.1 That’s nothing to sneeze at!

 

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This type of socially conscious investing has attracted a wide variety of investors—from individuals and small businesses to nonprofit organizations and religious institutions—who are interested in putting their money to good use.

But listen to me: Just because a bunch of your well-meaning friends are diving into the world of impact investing doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. Let’s dig a little deeper.

How does impact investing work?

In reality, impact investing really isn’t all that different from investing in traditional mutual funds—the biggest difference is what the fund’s goals are.

For example, let’s say you’re passionate about providing access to technology to low-income neighborhoods and want to invest in companies dedicated to that cause.

First, you want to find an impact investing fund made up of companies that provide access to technology for folks in those communities. Then, you’ll invest money into those projects and companies that specialize in that particular cause. Pretty straightforward, right?

If there’s a particular issue that tugs at your heartstrings, there’s probably a fund somewhere out there that invests in companies trying to tackle that issue. Some of the common areas of interest for impact investors include:

  • Poverty
  • Sustainable trade
  • Low-income housing
  • Carbon emissions
  • Clean energy
  • Toxic emissions and waste
  • Clean drinking water
  • Health and safety of employees
  • Diversity

Now, there are hundreds of different impact investing funds to choose from. So how do you know which funds might actually be good to add to your portfolio? First, you’ll want to sit down with an investing professional who can help you go over your options. That’s always a good idea, no matter what you’re investing in.

Does impact investing really work?

Like I mentioned earlier, impact investing has two goals: to make a difference in the world and to make the investor money. So how does impact investing work for both sides? Let’s take a look.

1. How do impact investment funds perform?

Well, it depends. Some impact investment funds intentionally invest knowing they’ll get lower returns. That’s because they’re more concerned with accomplishing their social or environmental goals than returning a profit. Other impact investments try to bring in returns that are competitive with the stock market.

Still, according to a study by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), impact investments have average returns of 5.8% since their inception.2 That’s well below the average return of the S&P 500 (approximately 10%). I don’t know about you, but those numbers don’t fill me with confidence.

In other words, your impact investment funds might not perform as well as traditional mutual funds.

2. Does impact investing really make a difference?

The jury is still out on this one too. While it’s pretty easy to measure how impact investments perform financially, it’s a little trickier to evaluate how much they actually make a difference for the causes. Too often, investors are left guessing and hoping their investment dollars are being invested in companies and causes that are doing some good.3 That’s easier said than done.

Here’s the deal: Impact investing is still pretty new and, in many cases, there’s very little accountability and no standard to measure progress against. A company might say it’s taking steps to clean the environment, but who’s making sure it delivers on the promises?

The good news is that companies and fund managers are beginning to catch on. Many companies are starting to self-report on their efforts to have a positive impact on the environment, social causes and culture overall. So that’s progress!

Listen, I do believe that impact investing can do some good. But it’s hard to measure how much good it’s actually doing. If you’re going to invest in impact investing funds, you need to make sure you understand how your money is going to help the businesses you invest in and how they, in turn, will make the world a better place.

Should I dive into impact investing?

This is your money. These are your values. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to do your homework on impact investments and decide whether or not to invest based on your values and principles. No one can make that decision for you!

Here’s what I will tell you: If you don’t understand it, don’t invest in it. Make sure you feel comfortable investing in something before you hand over your money. If some fund manager can’t tell you how your money will make an impact or give you a return on your investment, it’s probably not worth the trouble.

For those who want to make a difference, there are some alternatives to impact investing you should consider—like investing the old-fashioned way and making room in your budget for charitable giving or saving with the intention of giving to causes and organizations you care about down the line. You could even do both!

Personally? I want my investments spread out evenly between four types of mutual funds: growth, growth and income, aggressive growth, and international. And I look for funds that have a long history of strong returns (think 10 years or longer). That way, I can sleep easier knowing I don’t have my nest egg tied up in one basket and I’m invested in funds that have stood up to the test of time.

To learn more about using mutual funds to build wealth, check out my book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too.

Find a Financial Advisor

Okay, I can’t begin to stress how important it is to work with a financial advisor. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’ve been investing for years. Having a pro on your side to help you make confident decisions about your investments is always a good idea!

Need help finding a qualified investing pro? Try our SmartVestor program. With SmartVestor, you can find financial advisors who understand your goals and help you make sense of all your investing options.

Find your financial advisor today!

About Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan is a #1 national bestselling author, dynamic speaker and financial expert. For more than a decade, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, spreading a message of hope to audiences across the country as a financial coach and Ramsey Personality. Hogan challenges and equips people to take control of their money and reach their financial goals, using The Chris Hogan Show, his national TV appearances, and live events across the nation. His second book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too is based on the largest study of net-worth millionaires ever conducted. You can follow Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360.