Life Changes - A Little Planning Can Go A Long Way

Life changes so fast sometimes. While some changes are exciting and well thought-out, others are not. When unanticipated things happen, you can cope much better if you have a plan.

Whether good or bad, most major changes are stressful. We find comfort in a familiar routine which is why it’s so difficult to imagine, much less plan for, the unexpected.

However, if you’re able to work through some of the details upfront, it makes things much easier when and if these life changes happen to you.


Positive Life Changes

It’s always easier to plan for the positive. It’s fun to think about. When planning for and going through these life changes you often feel like you’re moving forward and making positive strides.

Marriage

Marriage is a big one. Even though it has a major impact on your life, you usually have time to plan for it. The problem is if you’ve never been married or have had an unsuccessful marriage, it’s difficult to know just where to begin.

Since this is a money management website, I’m not going to delve into the philosophy of love and marriage. However, I will tell you there are few things that can tear a marriage apart quicker than financial problems.

It’s important to openly discuss your current financial situation, any past financial blunders and your future plans with your spouse-to-be. Will you have separate or joint accounts? If you have a joint account who will manage the money?

These things seem simple enough but if your money management styles clash or if one of you is adamant about maintaining a high credit score and the other isn’t, it could turn into a huge problem fast once you’re legally joined.

It’s best to sit down together and come up with a plan before you’re married and it becomes an issue. Then you can focus your time and energy on enjoying your new life.

The Birth of a Child

When it comes to life changes, the birth of a child ranks at the top of the list. Whether it’s your first or your fourth, each one brings with it a new set of challenges and rewards.

Luckily nature gives you eight to nine months to plan for this change. It would be ideal however, to plan a little further out than that. Things like medical insurance for both mother and baby, child care, and maternity leave are all things that need to be worked out before the baby is even born.

Since these things cost money, the longer you have to plan and budget, the better prepared you’ll be. It sounds like a lot of work because it is. And just like everything else in life, unexpected things will come up. But if you prepare as much as possible ahead of time, you can handle the surprises better and enjoy this most special of life changes.

Purchasing a Home

A home is the largest purchase most of us will ever make. If you’ve never owned a home before this can be a big adjustment. Sometimes you have years to plan for this. Other times you may run across an irresistible deal within days of deciding it’s time to purchase.

Home ownership is not a decision that should be made lightly. There’s a lot involved in the process. The first and most important step is to make sure you have room in your budget. Then you’ll need to shop for the best loan rates, secure homeowners insurance, and buy furniture if you don’t already have it. And these are just the basics.

Purchasing a home is a big milestone in life. Not only can you decorate it the way you wish but you now have an appreciating asset and so your net worth increases as well.

Purchasing a Vehicle

On a smaller scale, purchasing a vehicle should be planned for, too. Again, sometimes you have the luxury of planning months or even years in advance. If that’s the case you may have a vehicle to trade-in or sell to help with the purchase price.

Other times you may need to purchase in hurry due to unforeseen circumstances. Even if you don’t plan on needing another vehicle anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to start a fund so when the time comes, you’ll be better prepared. This can usually be done with a few budget tweaks.

Either way, purchasing a new vehicle is exciting. By planning for the purchase and shopping around for the best price, you’ll have more selection to choose from and a better overall experience.

Changing Jobs

Changing jobs can be listed in both the positive and negative life changes categories. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the change. But since it’s best to focus on the positive, it’s listed here.

A new job can be one of the most exciting life changes by providing you with an opportunity to learn new things while increasing your skill set. You can’t always know when a layoff is pending but sometimes you’re lucky enough to see the writing on the wall.

In any event, you can stay prepared by remaining current on the latest technology in your field. Or if demand is low or decreasing in your current occupation, you can begin preparing now for a new career in a more sought-after field.

By putting forth the effort to stay up-to-date in your line of work, you increase the odds of not only surviving a layoff but also increase your chances of getting promoted as well.


Negative Life Changes

Negative life changes are never pleasant to think about. Especially the in-depth type of thinking needed to properly plan for them.

When traumatic things happen, good judgment often goes out the window just when you need it most.

If you can work out a plan for these life changes while things are calm, then if something happens, you’ll be better equipped to handle it. You’ll already know what to do and have measures in place. Again, you can never have the perfect plan because life is so fluid. But something in the general direction is better than nothing at all.

Divorce

Divorce can be one of the most traumatic life changes you can go through. Whether it’s mutual or not someone always gets hurt. While you should never go into marriage planning for divorce, you have to be realistic.

The fact is, sometimes people change. The best way to avoid things getting really ugly in this situation is to be honest with both yourself and your spouse. It’s not usually hard to tell when things aren’t right. Talk it out before resentment builds up. Go to counseling if you need to.

If you’ve tried everything and find you still can’t work things out, it’s best to seek the advice of a divorce attorney. Since each circumstance is different, someone with knowledge of your specific situation would be best qualified to direct you. They can advise you about child custody, asset protection and asset allocation while operating within your state laws.

Home Foreclosure

Home foreclosure can be a very difficult process to endure. This is especially true when you thought you were doing everything right. Sometimes you can have a working budget, stable job, and good health one day and it’s gone the next through no fault of your own.

This is where good planning can be a lifesaver. Proper insurance such as health, life, and disability insurance can really help in certain situations. Other times having an emergency fund can mean the difference in keeping your home and losing it.

Sometimes downsizing can be the answer. It’s far better to sell your home than have it foreclosed. If you have enough time, this is a good alternative. In any case, this one should never sneak up and bite you. Everyone can and should plan for this. If you plan for it and nothing ever happens that’s great. But if an emergency comes up, proper planning could save your home.

Job Loss

Job loss is traumatic on a couple of levels. The most obvious is the economic level. This is even truer when the loss is sudden and unexpected. The second level is the emotional level. It’s difficult to imagine how it will feel if you’ve never experienced it.

You can plan for this much like you’d plan for changing jobs. The key is to never become complacent. Job security is a thing of the past and no one is irreplaceable. Stay current in your industry if it’s growing and cross-train when you can. And always maintain a good reputation because you may need a recommendation one day.

If you’re noticing jobs like yours in other companies being outsourced, start thinking about a career change. On-line courses make this easier than ever to do. You may find that you never need to use it or you may decide to change jobs voluntarily. Either way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have done all you can to prepare.

Illness, Injury or Death

Illness, injury or death of a close family member or yourself is probably one the hardest life changes to plan for. It’s extremely difficult to think through these morbid scenarios. However, by going through this painful planning process, you could save yourself and your family a lot of additional heartache should the unthinkable happen.

One of the first steps is to make sure you and your family has proper insurance coverage. You can start by taking a close look at your health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance.

You should also take steps to set up an emergency fund. This is not only helpful in the event something happens to the primary breadwinner but would be beneficial for every member of the family. Since the likelihood increases of missing work to grieve or help care for the sick or injured, this fund could become invaluable.

As painful as it is, you can spare your loved ones much grief by having a written plan of your last wishes and discussing your choices with family members. A Living Will can also help them avoid a lot of guilt when tough decisions need to be made.

Having a traditional will also makes things much simpler for the ones left behind. In all honesty, every adult should have one. This includes adult children still living at home. There’s nothing sadder than having to deal with legal issues and court battles while grieving a loss.


The suggestions listed above are intended to bring things to your attention that you may not have thought about in planning for life changes. In an attempt to help you avoid problems before they get out of hand, these suggestions sometimes make even the positive changes sound scary. That’s not the intention.

You should enjoy your life and the positive things that happen as much as possible. It sounds like an oxymoron to say you should plan so your life can be more carefree. However, when the hard details are taken care of, believe it or not, you’re freer to enjoy the best life has to offer.

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