Our Crazy Times

With congress finally coming together last week to reopen the government and securing our debt payments (which by the way really wasn’t in jeopardy), I thought it might be a good time to share my thoughts.

The deal which was stuck doesn’t solve the issue. It simply moves the timeline out to early next year. This leaves us with the possibility of facing this situation again in January or February of 2014.

What did we learn?

The takeaway from this period of political and economic uncertainty is that the sun will still come up tomorrow.  The government has shutdown 17 times since 1977.  The average length of these shutdowns is roughly 3 days, which may lead you to believe that our current partial shutdown of 16 days was the longest in recent history? Not true, in Dec of 1995, the government shutdown for 21 days.  Anyone remember that shutdown?

My point is simple: some political and economic uncertainty will always be with us. Matter of fact, we may be right back in the same boat in a few months. So, whether you are a democrat, republican, or independent and look to cast blame to the other side of the isle for the latest debacle, we should step back and focus on what we can control.

Focusing on the things we can control is the key. We can’t control what happens in Washington. Even though we can voice our thoughts to our congressmen and women (and should do so), we can’t control the time frame and the outcome of these situations. Most often the media blows the situation out of proportion and feeds our pain by pounding us over and over with doom and gloom.

If you remember the last debt ceiling crisis in 2011, you will remember the unease that was created….or maybe you won’t.  Looking back, you may not even remember.  I dug up an email I sent out at the end of July in 2011 to my clients trying to be a calming voice in a world of doom and gloom. The funny thing is the email still makes sense today…..and will in a few months if we possibly face this scenario again.

Uncertainty is certain.  The degree of uncertainty is uncertain, but it will be there….always has and always will. So, let’s focus on the things we can control.  We get up and put our pants on one leg at a time and go out into the world and try to make it a better place.

Read on if you would like to see the email from July 2011.  It still rings true today.

Emailed July 28th 2011

Good morning all,

I apologize for just now getting this email out, but, since my return from vacation this week, today is my first opportunity to catch my breath. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

First of all, I hope you are not glued to the TV. Every time the topic comes on one of the major news networks ominous music plays in the background and DEBT CRISIS flashes in front of your eyes…written in big scary letters.  If there’s one solid piece of advice I can give you, it’s to limit your news intake during this time. Remember good news stories don’t sell in the media and all this negative promotion can and will affect your emotional well-being.

While I don’t know how this will turn out, I feel that something will be done and we will move on with our life seeing this event as a very small bump in the road.  Most importantly and how this impacts our financial planning community is simple: we will continue to control the things we can control. We will continue to make decisions that are based on our big picture view. We are not going to make decisions based on panic and fear-based emotions.  We made it through 2008-2009, and we will make it through this, which may end up as nothing (which would be my guess).

In closing, please know that I am here. If you would like to talk about this or anything else, feel free to reach out to me.

About the author

Troy Von Haefen, CFP®
Troy Von Haefen, CFP®

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