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Unexpected Changes Can Become A Financial Crisis

On Thursday, March 24, 2022, my life forever changed as my dad (John J. Feola) passed away unexpectedly. He went to bed at 8 PM the night before and just never woke up. When life suddenly changes, it feels like life is falling apart around you. You feel numb and time passes by but you don't realize how much. When you are in emotional turmoil the last thing you should need to worry about is money. When there is an unexpected death that equals unexpected bills, which could include funeral costs, back bills, travel, houses...etc.

So the question is how do you process your emotions, manage your career, communicate well with your spouse, and maintain your finances - have savings. Murphy's law is anything that can go wrong will go wrong and without the savings that my brothers, husband, and I had we would not have been able to handle the mountain of bills that piled up quickly - cremation arrangements, travel for a celebration of life, taxes, car loan, and a mortgage on an out of state property.

It's hard to know where to start so the best place to start is to just start making lists. From there, figure out the top priorities based on time sensitivity. There is going to be so much to do but understand that not everything needs to be done at once. It is okay to give yourself breathing room to do other activities like watching a movie, doing work, reading, or taking a nap. There is no wrong answer when you grieving so do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty or insensitive. You cannot be everything to everyone during something hard. It is more important to be there for yourself in whatever capacity that means.

The second piece of advice is to not make any rash money decisions that affect investments. If you have general cash savings, use it to help pay off any past debt especially if there is a spouse still alive. My mother has been beside herself and getting out of bed in the morning and showering is a success. Anything you cannot pay off from a debt perspective make a plan and budget to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Family is important and you should do whatever you are able to help, but do not let it derail your debt pay-off journey or your financial needs to live.

Lastly, take your time with decisions. I've been giving myself three to four tasks a day to focus on. The first few days I overwhelmed myself thinking everything needed to be done now. Step back and breathe. Don't lose site of what is important. Even though the person you loved is gone, the people around you are there to help; let them.


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