You have just been diagnosed with cancer. Your world as you know it just changed in one second. I am sorry you are the one in three this year that had to hear that news. Your mind goes a hundred miles an hour. Where do you start?
That choice is yours of course, but if you would allow me to make some suggestions as it pertains to your money situation.
Money plays a very big part of most of our lives. Our ability to earn an income is paramount. Our desire is to help our families. The money we wish for all our needs, goals and wants may have just been impacted. It could affect the flow of money for a short time or a long time. You might not even know that yet. Here are a few things to consider.
- Do not do this alone. There are lots of resources and people with expertise that will help you navigate and help change where you can and it makes sense.
- Do you have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place? If not PLEASE get one done now. You want a trusted person who will/can make decisions on your behalf it there comes a time you are not able.
- If you choose not to have one, then be OK that the government has the authority to make the decisions for you. Not sure you want that??
- Make sure your WILL is up to date. If not please make this a priority.
- Do not contact your bank just yet. Do a bit of home work first.
- List the expenses you NEED to cover, like mortgage payments, utilities, etc. If you don’t have this information already from doing a financial plan, then you might get someone’s help to do this.
- Also make a list of the payments you are making that could be put on hold for a while. Things like monthly investments, memberships, activities. Just a list for now.
- You may be able to qualify for a Line of Credit.
- Try not to use credit cards as the interest rates are too high.
- You may need to re-finance your home, or lower payments, or prioritize differently.
- The next task is to figure out where your income will come from or the changes you can expect while you fight your battle.
- Pull out all your booklets from work and any insurance policies you have. You will need them if you have to contact them.
- Decide if you will/can continue to work full time, part time, no time.
- If you work, notify your HR (human resources) about your situation. They will have paperwork for you and your doctor to complete.
- If you are self-employed, is there someone who can run your business while you are busy getting well again?
- If you will be claiming other insurance or benefits, contact them to advise of your situation. They will then open a file and start your claim, if eligible.
- Ask them to explain what you are entitled to. You may want to have a family member or friend with you to take notes.
- Once you know your income and expenses, you can decide what needs to be paid and what can be put on hold.
- If the situation looks scary, here’s where a professional financial planner may be able to look at the situation, suggest changes and support you going forward.
- If they happen to decline your claim, get someone’s help and send it in again if you feel they need to look at it again.
- You may need to cash out some of your investments.
- Depending on the type, there are pros and cons. Understand them.
- Decide if this strategy is the wisest.
- Be mindful of fees and taxes.
- You need to be aware to the tax implications before you do any transactions.
- Will any of the transactions affect your future income? Claw backs and such.
- Don’t let the material things get in your way of healing.
- Ask for help.
- Get well again.
Financial planning is not a right or wrong set of strategies. Sometimes we need to think outside the box. Work with someone with experience and knowledge to help you through and then make sure a plan is in place for your future and your family.
Wendy Olson-Brodeur is a Certified Financial Planner who practices holistic planning as well as specializes in separation and divorce situations. Wendy Olson-Brodeur CFP,CFDS, Mediator, www.wealthwellness.ca andwww.tfds.ca.