Want to avoid a lapsed policy?

When the purse strings are pulled tight, it’s challenging to look at your statement and see monthly amounts deducted for insurance payments. Whether the risk policies are for health care, income protection or the protection of assets, seeing them come off your account can be painful.

As a result, many of us cut these policies quickly to create immediate relief to our finances because it feels like one of the few things we can control. But if we do this out of panic, and not strategic intent, we may very likely regret the decision.

If we miss a payment or cancel a contribution, our policy will be in danger of lapsing. Different companies and countries have various rulings on the timelines for this, but the general guideline is that if you stop paying, you will lose your cover within 30 days. A lapsed policy could mean more than just the loss of cover; it could also be linked to other integrated products in your portfolio.

We all know that life can become complicated and uncomfortable without notice. We can lose a job tomorrow, or receive a dread-disease diagnosis next week; we’re not in control of what will happen. But, we are only in control of how we will respond to life taking a turn for the worse. 

This is where we can become powerful and push through the tough times to emerge stronger and better than we were before. Here are a few strategic decisions that can help you make healthy decisions and avoid lapsed policies.

If your finances have become constrained, it’s possible that a reshuffle or reduction of your policies could be beneficial. Rather than cancelling them without a second thought, you can look to reduce costs or change options. This is where, together, we can help you make powerful choices to keep some cover in place and identify critical areas of focus.

It’s also essential to remember that cancelling a product now may mean that you will no longer be eligible for it again in the future. Many legacy products in the financial sector cannot be reinstated after they have been cancelled or lapsed. Make sure you know what you’re letting go of – especially if it’s linked to a rewards programme.

Another beneficial strategy is to engage (sometimes through your financial planner) with the product provider and ask for a payment plan or a payment holiday. Communication is immensely valuable in a crisis, and it’s often the hardest thing to do when we’re feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. 

Before you lose out, reach out. Let’s touch base and see what the best steps forward will be to keep you in the most beneficial position possible.

When you think you can’t

Stress can be an incredibly powerful motivator. Most of the time, we see it as a negative, but that’s because our days are generally overwhelmed with stress. And, our coping skills have evolved to help us survive in environments very different (Cosmides & Tooby, 2013). Our mind protects us from harm and further stress by telling us that “we can’t”.

Coping with everyday life is complex and learning to make healthier decisions is a lifelong journey; it’s not something we can learn in one blog, book, podcast or TED talk. Every day we need to learn how to show up in a way that changes our focus from what we can’t do, to what we can.

From how we relate to our family and feel about making luxury purchases to engaging with clients and customers and managing our money, stress always crops up. We can try to avoid it (nearly impossible) or view it as an opportunity to develop and exercise our character.

Psychological research in sports, business, and beyond has identified approaches, skills, and tools to help us cope, overcome, and flourish.

The ABCDE model, developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s, provides a reflective framework that supports us in changing our emotions and behaviours by identifying irrational beliefs and swapping them with rational ones.

  1. ADVERSITY – Acknowledge the activity or adversity that is triggering. For example, not getting the raise you were hoping for or losing a pitch with a new client.
  2. BELIEFS – Recognise the irrational beliefs that come to mind when you face adversity. For example, you may believe you are worthless or not good enough and never get anything right.
  3. CONSEQUENCES – Recognise the consequences of those irrational beliefs. For example, you may give up trying or decide to lower your standards and start accepting second-best.
  4. DISPUTE – Dispute the irrational beliefs and replace them with rational beliefs. For example, you can remind yourself of all your happy clients and customers and the excellent work and acknowledgement you’ve achieved and received in the past.
  5. EFFECT – Notice the effect of your new beliefs and the confidence you have to change your situation. For example, you could approach your boss or prospective clients and find out how to do better, or you can keep yourself open to better opportunities that lie around the corner. 

Ultimately, we can’t stop our emotions from running amok. Still, we can interrupt them and become more intentional about what we believe about ourselves and how we will choose to respond in stressful situations.

There are many other strategies, including having a coach or mentor to help you see your blind spots (and irrational beliefs). For many years, financial planners have begun to play a strong coaching and support role to their clients, and as such, together, we can work towards helping you push a little harder or take a healthy rest when you think that you can’t.

What’s happening in the markets?… is not always the best question

Whilst it’s good to have someone on your team (your financial adviser) who knows what’s happening in the markets, it’s not always helpful to relay all that information to you and have you make decisions about it. We can’t control the markets, but we can control our conversations about money.

That’s why it’s not always helpful to ask what is happening in the markets; it’s more beneficial to ask what problems we can work on in our own lives, that we can choose to influence or overcome.

Because these will always, always, affect our money.

In some of the most recent financial planning conversations, we’re trying to focus on some of the most common emotional, behavioural and financial problems we can help our clients solve.

EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS

  1. Anxiety
  2. Fear
  3. Uncertainty

It is empowering to talk about and plan for what could or might happen, it’s not always pleasant (because it’s so filled with anxiety!), but it’s necessary. Through this, we can deal with and confront what is happening at any given point and become comfortable with uncertainty, helping you paint a more understandable and accessible future.

BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS

  1. Risk Management
  2. Control
  3. Confidence

We live in an era that is pleading with us to be kinder to ourselves, and it’s a wonderful space in which to be present. It’s not about ignoring pain or problems, but it could be about planning to be less wrong tomorrow. We can reduce the big blow-ups and mistakes and let the boring be beautiful! This helps us gain a better sense of control and restores confidence in bucket loads.

FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

  1. Do we have enough?
  2. Paying too much tax
  3. Giving

This first question here is one that often needs as much reframing as the one in the title of this blog! Our challenge is to deal with the intersection of enough vs more and align money and time with what’s most important to us. This then helps us with some of the more practical concerns, like minimising tax and finding a way to make our money expand, and not reduce, our legacy. It’s powerful to be able to give with a warm heart, not a cold hand.

If you want to explore these questions more, and change how you engage with your money and how it affects your quality of life, let’s chat!

It’s okay to listen and learn

Over the last two decades, we’ve been introduced, seduced and held captive by the overwhelming presence of digital communication. From the days when we promised ourselves we would ‘never get emails on our Blackberry’ to an age where we can DM, post, comment, react, share, support, subscribe, pin, tweet, self-publish, sync, stream, webcast, update, upload and download practically anything and everything.

We’ve moved from a chosen behaviour to listen and learn to a conditioned behaviour of reacting, responding and replying; and, it’s spilling over into our real-world lives.

With so many things in life, if we want to do them well, we need to pace ourselves, listen and learn. Learning can happen in many ways, including taking action, but if we haven’t listened properly, our actions will almost always be inadequate or inappropriate.

Becoming exceptionally good at anything requires hours and hours of learning and growing, and it requires focus, diligence and dedication. But, the digital world urges us to move faster whilst thinking and feeling less. This is why we find ourselves stuck or trapped in debt or with a string of poor financial decisions in our past and a lack of confidence to make better decisions in the future.

It’s why we struggle to connect through deep conversations and crave a journey of self-awareness and change on our own terms, not someone else’s agenda. Perhaps, we need to be reminded that it’s okay to simply listen and learn.

We don’t have to respond and reply to everything people say and do. We can let them be who they feel they need to be so that we can focus on who we want to be, making decisions that best benefit us.

It’s okay to listen and learn.

As Stephen Covey put it, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

When the markets have you second-guessing

“Genuine travellers travel not to overcome distance but to discover distance.”
James P Carse

Investing money is always a paradox: it’s simple, complex, straightforward, challenging, mathematical, and unpredictable. It’s because of our emotional influence that plays a significant role in every decision we make.

When investing in the markets, many have said it’s all about time in the markets, not timing the markets. When trying to time the markets, our emotions can offset our mathematical thinking and trigger our unpredictable, irrational thinking. Just like the genuine traveller, who would more often choose the scenic route than the shortcut, we cannot allow panic to have us second-guessing and looking for a shortcut to sustainable wealth.

Seasoned investors, like genuine travellers, know that the markets will always have twists and turns, hills and valleys. They often choose the road less travelled because it’s about discovering, not overcoming. But it’s also not always about taking a longer route as much as it is about realising that the course may have unexpected scenery, delays or alternate routes.

Another helpful comparison from this analogy is that successful, memorable trips often have a navigator and a map. In our financial journey, when the road gets hairy or it looks like we’re heading off course, we need someone to help us check in on our map to either assure us that we’re on the right road or quickly find alternatives for us.

The markets and your investment strategy will always have you second-guessing; that’s simply the nature of important decisions. Every big decision we make will always present many alternatives and that’s why it’s helpful to have relationships with people we trust and respect to help us make and stick to our best decisions.

The Superman Syndrome

Have you ever watched a superhero movie where they show the origin story of the hero? It’s often a journey of going from ordinary and wanting so much more, to being extra-ordinary and not being able to cope with all of the responsibility.

A sense of overwhelming obligation can both distract and dilute the hero from being truly powerful in exacting the change they would like to see. And, although we’re not superheroes we can sometimes relate to this on a profound level.

There’s a quote by Robert Jordan that goes like this: “He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”

If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, almost to the point of drowning, it could be because of the extent to which you’ve allowed other people’s expectations to rule your life. On the website, orgcoach.net, they have a blog that helps us understand and deal with The Superman Syndrome.

One of the helpful tips that they offer is this: Honour your priorities

We are creatures of habit, and old patterns are hard to change, even when they no longer serve us well. Health care professionals note that we are so addicted to our fast-paced lives that it often takes a life-threatening crisis such as a heart attack or cancer to slow us down enough to gain the work-life balance we desire.

If you struggle to live a life based on your priorities and values, here are some concrete action steps you can take, beginning TODAY!

Action Idea #1: Discover what you love to do.

  • If you had a terminal illness, what would you want to do with the time you had left? Write down your response.
  • What’s holding you back from doing this now? Do you choose to wait for a terminal illness to come along before you make time for what you love most?
  • Get your calendar out now, and schedule a time to do some of the things you wrote down.

Action Idea #2: Articulate your values.

  • Jot down the names of 10-20 people whom you admire. They don’t need to be living, and you may have never met them or known them personally.
  • After you’ve completed your list, write down the qualities that you admire in each person you listed. For example, if you listed Mother Teresa, you might describe these qualities: compassion, generosity, and unconditional love. The qualities that you admire in others are YOUR values.
  • How do you honour your values regularly? What’s getting in the way of you honouring them?
  • Pick at least one value that you choose to honour in the coming week. How will you honour it? If you will honour it in the form of an activity, be specific about what the activity is and schedule time on your calendar to make it happen.

Action Idea #3: Identify your priorities and passions.

  • Pretend that you are attending your 100th birthday party and your closest friends and relatives have gathered to honor you. What would you want them to say about you? What would represent a life well lived with no regrets?
  • What matters most to you? What are you most passionate about? Write it down.
  • What one thing could you do–that if you did it regularly–would make the biggest difference in your personal life? How about for your professional life?
  • Get out your calendar and begin planning to do these things regularly.

If you’d like a fresh perspective (and someone to help you design the life you want by aligning your vision, priorities, and actions), then let’s schedule a discovery call today.

Car insurance and your financial portfolio

When the effects of inflation are being felt more than ever, and global economies are stuck in a state of recovery, it’s common for us to sit down and review our monthly expenses in a fervent drive to reduce our expenses. As we scroll through our bank statements or budgeting apps, we will start to question every payment – and insurance will always catch our eye and have us asking if it’s really necessary.

The answer is not always “yes” or “no” to insurance. More often than not, it’s about how much cover we need and can still afford, and then attempting to find a comfortable balance between those two amounts

Each choice affects the whole of our portfolio; none can be taken in isolation. This is why these conversations and questions become more complex and overwhelming because we start out wanting to know the solution to one problem, and then find ourselves working through a host of other concerns.

Car insurance is no different and carries a myriad of budget-influencing factors. It doesn’t matter who you bought the insurance through, or are considering, it will impact your financial plan, and that’s why this conversation is relevant.

There are many blogs and articles written about car insurance. Still, this one aims to bring in some high-level considerations to help you understand and ask better questions about your insurance and how it impacts your overall financial portfolio.

First off, car insurance is not just about covering you in the event of an accident; it’s also designed to offer cover if your car is stolen. Whilst you may think that you drive well and avoid accidents (which is unfortunately impossible, no matter how carefully we drive), you need to think about the implications of having your car stolen, especially if you have taken finance to purchase your vehicle and/or have a balloon payment plan.

As Bertus Visser from PSG says, car insurance is not only about your driving abilities but also about safeguarding against everyday hazards outside your control.

Regarding the types of cover available, it’s always beneficial to work with an adviser or broker on this as the options are extensive, and they’re never as clear-cut as comparing apples with apples.

But it’s helpful, beyond your car payments and insurance premiums, to consider how excess will work, what roadside assistance is available, if you’ll need to hire a car whilst you’re without one (either from an accident or theft), and if a balloon payment is covered in your short-term insurance portfolio. Should you claim on your car insurance, the amount of money needed to clear your excess, or anything else not covered under your policy, will either eat into your savings or force you to incur more debt.

Viewing your vehicles and related insurances within the bigger picture of your financial future is essential. A car, for many, is not simply a luxury – it could be a vital means of generating an income, running a business and helping your family live the life you choose.

And that, is worth insuring.

Fight or flight – freeze or appease?

We all have reactionary instincts, which can be quite different in various situations. We won’t always run from certain challenges (flight) or panic when confronted with a problem (freeze). Sometimes we may stand our ground and represent our deep values (fight), but in other cases, we could simply go with the flow in order to keep the peace (appease).

In her article “Everything I Know About Fight or Flight, ” Aurora Eliam describes how these hormonal cascades work succinctly. As individuals, the emotions that accompany the confusion and helplessness we feel when we experience fear or trauma will vary.

That said, the response to the particular emotion tends to be similar:

  • If you feel anger or frustration when afraid, your likely reaction will be to fight
  • If you feel terror or alarm when afraid, you’ll probably respond by flight
  • If you feel anxiety or desperation when afraid, you’ll likely freeze
  • If you feel dismayed or foreboding, you’ll try to appease

Whilst these can be reactionary, if we can learn to take a breath before acting (or reacting), we can condition ourselves to respond better in volatile, uncomfortable or challenging situations. There are many ways to start to reflect on our triggers, whether healthy or unhealthy, and these four classic trauma/fear responses are helpful in enabling us to identify our motivations and how they direct us.

And the sooner we realise that all of these will impact our financial situation, the better.

How we behave and show up is crucial to getting and keeping a job. Our reactions impact how we save, spend and invest, and how we communicate about and around money with our family and friends. Every life decision we make impacts our money.

As we identify why we behave the way we do, and how we arrive at our choices, we can start to choose how we might change them. In a blog on medium.com, the author offers these four helpful tips:

  • learning about and developing healthy personal boundaries (a major concern for appeasers)
  • developing safer and healthier self-soothing techniques and strategies for self-care (a major concern for flighters)
  • controlling mood and managing emotional responses (a major concern for fighters)
  • improving self-esteem and learning grounding techniques to lower anxiety and dissociation (a major concern for freezers)

If you want to experience more freedom in your finances, it’s helpful to explore how you can experience more freedom in other areas of life where you may feel like you have lost control, and learn to become healthily unattached to experiences and situations that are outside of your control.

We can only change what we can observe

One of the frustrations that we often experience is the feeling of being stuck. We repeat the same patterns, day in and day out, forming habits that we seem unable to shake. From unhealthy eating, exercise and money choices to self-sabotaging social media, phone and relationship habits, it’s easy to find ourselves living a life that feels stuck in time. 

As most coaches will tell us, it’s because we have blindspots to the choices that keep us stuck. We can see that we’re stuck, and we can see some of the obvious bad choices that we’re making, but we can’t see the stepping stones, or triggers, that keeps us in the cycle of bad choices.

We all have blind spots, and by definition; we can’t see them. And because we can’t observe them, we can’t change them.

If we want those different results, we need to learn to observe our blindspots. In fact, before we can even observe them, we need to acknowledge that they exist. Otherwise, we will be totally uncoachable when it comes to dealing with them.

If we truly want to make changes in our lives, then, we need to stop doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome. As Albert Einstein once said: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The solution is to be coachable. We need to find, and then listen to, other people who can see our blind spots.

So – if you’re feeling stuck in any area of your life, you need to ask someone you trust to help you look for your blindspots in that area. Then, when we identify them, and here’s where most of us get lazy, we need to write them down.

This helps us observe the patterns in our lives so that we can then choose to change the ones that we’re not happy with, or that we can trace to unhealthy outcomes. Keeping a journal also helps us track change, and this can be a significant motivator to keep on moving forward in a healthy direction.

This applies to every area of our life, it doesn’t just have to be a food journal or a financial budget. It can be an emotional journal or a memory journal; depending on the work we’re ready to do to bring about change in our lives, journaling helps us observe our blindspots and our habits so that we can regain our power to choose them or release them. Everything is connected and the moment we start to break down and rebuild one area of our lives, we’ll find it starts to open up more opportunities in other areas too. And, the more we can observe, the more we can control.

Doing everything yourself?

There are many reasons why we try to do everything ourselves, from satisfying our need to be in control to trying to save costs, or simply “wanting the job done right”, all of us find ourselves doing too much when we forget, or haven’t learned to delegate.

Taxes and financial planning are two areas that we often feel we can go it alone, but inevitably find ourselves turning to a professional down the line and realise that the mistakes we’ve made can be far more costly than hiring an expert earlier on. For small business owners, this is often seen in tasks like building a website and marketing strategy, or trying to manage our own accounting and bookkeeping. For homeowners we see this happening when we try to rewire the house, fix a plumbing leak or sort out the dishwasher that stopped working several weeks ago.

Whilst these examples may seem humorous and relatable, sometimes the problems we need to fix are not just tangible or superficial challenges, sometimes they’re related to our mental health or close relationships. Sometimes we desperately need someone else to help us spot our blindspots, our unhealthy habits and the red flags that we’re not able to spot ourselves.

If you try to do everything yourself, you could very well be headed for either burnout or a complete meltdown.

Kathy Paauw from orgcoach.net, says that each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Not every task required along the road to success will be enjoyable. New challenges often involve things that are outside of our own expertise. Attempting to do everything ourselves – succumbing to the Do-Everything-Myself syndrome — is not feasible, since it takes too much time for each of us to learn and do everything ourselves.

As Seth Godin says: “You don’t need more time in your day. You need to decide.”  You need to decide what you’re going to focus on, and what you’re going to delegate.

Delegation helps us share the load, and it helps us communicate with others in a way that draws them in and includes them in our journey, whilst making them feel valued and making us feel valuable.

There are three types of tasks that we should identify to delegate:

1 – Tasks we don’t enjoy

2 – Tasks we shouldn’t do (because our time is better used doing something else)

3 – Tasks we can’t do (because we don’t have the expertise)

Remember, you can’t help anyone else until you learn to help yourself first. Delegation is not a lazy strategy, it’s a success strategy. The sooner we can identify the tasks that we shouldn’t be doing, the sooner we can stop doing everything ourselves.