A Cry for Help: Requesting Caregiving Support

“All that I need
Is to cry for help
Somebody please hear me
Cry for help
All I can do
Is cry for help”

–A Cry for Help, song & lyrics by Rick Astley

The year was 2012: my partner was 53 when health issues began creeping up on him. It first started with an diabetic ulcer, which he chose to ignore until it became almost too late.

The second emergency progressed until he could barely walk. It took me over 6 months to get him to the hospital with the threat, “Either you go NOW, or I’m moving out! I’m not going to watch you die!” December 29, 2014 he was admitted to the hospital. The result: emergency surgery to repair a ruptured disc. His prognosis wasn’t good: paralysis or death. Again, he waited until the last minute to take action.

During that time, my partner and I often discussed his health, his progress (or lack thereof), my concern for his well-being and my ability to assist. Choices needed to be made. His decision was to do what he could with the time and finances he had. With an intense hatred for the health insurance industry, his choice was to wait until catastrophic insurance kicked in to take care of medical needs. Tough love kicked in and I mentioned that I couldn’t build a business and care for someone who couldn’t care for himself.

Also during this time, I consulted with friends and family on how to help. Against my partner’s wishes, I informed family members of health updates, medical procedures, medication compliancy, and, most importantly, my need for help!

While I received verbal support and appreciation for all I was doing, there was no offer for help—either financial or physical. I tried to get everyone to rally together to let him know we love him and want to help, but I couldn’t get anyone to rally.

By March 2016, he was in so much pain and couldn’t work anymore. He was relying on me more and more and had failed to mention that he was behind in rent.

My panic skyrocketed!

It was time for serious intervention so I called his closest friends and siblings. In tears. Desperate for help. Most were unable to help, but offered their sympathy and understanding despite me saying I had to leave him. I received some unexpected financial support, which helped with the immediate crisis. Still, I made a tough decision as to my own well-being and business, which were seriously suffering.

Then I called his adult children, who up until this point were grateful for my involvement in his life, even though they weren’t too fond of me. That’s when all hell broke loose:

“I thought you loved Dad! Now you’re leaving him?”

“What kind of a person are you for abandoning him? You are a wretched, selfish person!”

Of course, these comments were filled with much more insulting words and phrases.

I was devastated. I questioned my worthiness, my abilities, my future. And I wasn’t even married to him.

“Why must we hide emotions?
Why can’t we ever break down and cry?”

–Rick Astley, A Cry for Help

The result: I told him of my conversation with his friends, siblings, and children. I told him I was moving out, of which he wasn’t pleased, but he understood. He took action to apply for financial programs and disability services. He purchased tools to assist with daily living. He maintained regular doctor checkups and is now consistently keeping up with his medications. I am eating, sleeping, feeling better, and back to focusing on my business. We are still ‘a couple’, but living under different roofs.

Before you find yourself in a similar black hole, here’s the advice my partner and I discussed on how others can cope:

Keep family informed. The caregiving recipient may insist others don’t need to know everything, but it’s important they know what’s happening, the progress, any complications, and updates. This will prevent accusations of, “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”

Seeking help. It doesn’t need to be around the clock, but visits during hospital stays, important work meetings, or offering the caregiver a weekend getaway is a must for the caregiver’s wellbeing.

Put feelings aside. You may not like a family member or vice versa, but constant animosity only intensifies the situation.

Avoid criticizing the caregiver’s attempts to help or request for help. If you disagree with a method, discuss it with those involved. Name-calling and back-stabbing build a wall that helps no one.

Ask the caregiver what they need. Time, support, and finances are the biggest caregiver’s needs, but as mentioned above, sometimes all that’s needed is time away. Or a shoulder to cry on.

Ask the caregiving recipient what they need. The recipient may have certain wishes too. Get clear on whether or not that person seeks or wants assistance and find a compromise to accommodate both. This is TOUGH!

Seek out resources. With family caregiving on the rise, more resources are becoming available to help. You can help the family caregiver by doing the research for him/her!

Acceptance. Be aware that there is only so much you can do as a caregiver. Do what you can but know that you can’t force people to participate, comply, or help.

As with all things in a relationship, communication is the key to success. For caregiving to be a success, open the discussion with family before the need becomes a reality.

Kristen

A Different Family Reunion: Moving Past Heartache and Disagreement

It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
–‘The Living Years’, song & lyrics by Mike & the Mechanics

Is there anything that gets you thinking about your own life more than a funeral? Last week I attended a friend’s funeral and compared the planning lessons learned from my father’s funeral.

While planning is a top priority to reduce stress and allow time for grieving, another overlooked necessity is overcoming family discord.

Every family has issues. Every family has someone that has fallen out of favor or holds a grudge against someone else, for whatever reason. At the time of the grudge-inducing event, emotions are high, tempers are short, and pride is set in stone. While peace is attempted, it often fails and carries on for years, even decades.

At my father’s funeral, I had an opportunity to repair my relationship with my brother Bill, after 40 years of silence. All I know is that when I was 13, I stuck my tongue at him and I haven’t been forgiven. At the funeral I hugged him, told him I missed him, and promised to call when he got home again. I felt optimistic that the years had melted the pain and we could return to being brother and sister. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. He never answered my calls. He eventually sent me a message to quit bothering him because he wasn’t interested in talking to me anymore.

As we get older, we’re often driven to re-examine our relationships.

  • Do we miss someone?
  • Do we need to apologize to someone?
  • Do we need to forgive?
  • Are the issues that initiated the anger still important?
  • Do the years melt the discord away?

My story is no different from yours or anyone else. We try. We keep on trying. We don’t give up. Maybe a few more years is needed.

I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say…
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
–‘The Living Years’, Mike & the Mechanics

Instead of waiting and wondering, start now. Attempt to make peace while everyone is still living. If you keep trying, it’s better than the regrets of, “I wish I would have apologized before he died.”

What first step can you take?

Kristen

Funeral Planning: Sooner Rather than Later

A hard reality of getting older means we must face our mortality and that of our loved ones. November 2015 my father died and this week, my partner’s mother died. Both parents had been suffering from various illnesses and deterioration. While our families knew the end was coming, one family had planned far in advance and one had not. It’s a difficult time made tougher by lack of planning.

The unplanned family:

  • My father’s death occurred 8pm on a Monday evening. The hospice team contacted a funeral home recommended by my mother’s church since she had none pre-arranged. When asked why she didn’t arrange things ahead of time, she said, “I didn’t want to admit your father was dying. It was too hard to take.”
  • I contacted family members secretly since mom was not ready to talk.
  • Within minutes, calls of condolences began to arrive along with the funeral home requesting information.
  • My mother was too distraught and ‘needed time’ to process what had just happened. Prepping was deferred to Tuesday morning.
  • In the meantime, friends & family members were calling me from across the country needing details from the deceased’s last minutes to funeral arrangements. I became overwhelmed and deferred family calls to my uncle. Thank goodness for the firestorm of social media!
  • My father’s sister took charge on finding hotel arrangements for out of town visitors early Tuesday.
  • Very little sleep and eating occurred between Monday evening and Saturday morning, the time of the funeral. My uncle arrived a few days in advance to console my mother and assist. I got a decent meal midday Thursday.
  • Emotions slowed the planning process. The pastor and funeral director asked my mother questions about favorite music, favorite passages, themes, and more. Each question stirred memories and turned on the waterworks for my mother, further delaying the process.
  • My mother needed to transfer funds to cover funeral costs, with a resulting time delay that slowed the process and increased her stress.
  • My brother arrived Friday and began barking orders after things were already settled. Tension escalated as he found fault with details he felt he should have been consulted on.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event. I slept 12 hours that night.

Does that give you the heebies? If you prefer a stress-free approach to funeral planning, address the topic now—for yourself as well as family members. Here are the benefits to pre-planning, as experienced by my partner’s family:

  • The parent decided the details of his/her funeral in advance, from clothing to be worn to the music chosen for the event. Services were paid in full at the time of planning.
  • Grieving family members are given time to grieve. Emotions were still high, but the pre-planning reduced the stress.
  • Contact people and phone trees were in place. A pre-designated family representative made the call that started the process. It also helped the funeral director and related services to have a primary contact.
  • Surviving family members managed friends, family, and minute details without an overload of stress. The family representative delegated tasks.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event.

Attending any funeral gives us a hard reality check which has us considering our own arrangements. Start the process now with these additional tips:

  • Make sure everyone knows what you want.
  • Listen to family’s complaints but stick to your preferences.
  • Write your obituary. Update as needed.
  • Prepayment eliminates a rush for funds.
  • Update styles and preferences every 3 to 5 years.

End of life isn’t easy but the more you plan ahead, the more you are assured your last wishes are honored and the process is less stressful for our loved ones.

Kristen

Helping a Parent Downsize: Simplify the Process to Maintain Sanity

“The best things in life aren’t things.” – Art Buchwald

Downsizing is one of those life events you hear everyone else talking about, but when it suddenly enters your family circle, it often comes as a shock.

December 2009, my 72 year old father fell, suffering severe traumatic brain injury and paralysis. My mother, 70, was suddenly alone in a 3-level home, with 8 large rooms, 3 bathrooms, and 2 acres of land to care for. It became overwhelming in a matter of weeks which initiated phase one of her downsizing.

My family is among the growing population of those engaged in downsizing activity, whether due to health, financial, or other reasons. Whatever the situation, it’s an emotional, energy-draining time for all involved. If you are helping a parent downsize, here are several tips to make the process easier.

Start with goals

It’s a huge undertaking to weed out years of accumulating all those beloved things. Establish a plan before you begin.

  • How much time do you need?
  • Who is available to help?
  • Who can contribute labor, resources, or finances?
  • What services will you need to help?
  • Where will your parent go once downsizing is complete?

Family assistance

Family members are spread across the country (and further) and may not be readily available to help. Involve everyone in the planning process and request their feedback. When can each one visit? How much is everyone willing to contribute—physically and financially?

Before

Who gets what?

Before you donate, recycle, or throw away anything, begin with an inventory review. Every family has something of sentimental or monetary value and it is best to establish who wants what in advance to reduce or eliminate family friction. Once treasures have been claimed, move across the family tree. There may be a college student, a newlywed couple, a divorcee, or new parents that may need the items your parent is eliminating.

Hire experts

House cleaning crews, yard care providers, and handymen are experts that can help with various tasks. My mother hired a cleaning lady who helped pack boxes for donation

Find volunteer help

Community, church, or scouting groups may offer volunteers to pack or haul donated items. Make sure they are reputable service providers to avoid theft or other problems.

After

Recycle, donate, and throw away

Recycling: many cities and states offer a wide range of recycling services. Earth Day events (occurring in April) offer opportunities to recycle and donate a vast assortment of items. Search your area to find local recycling resources.

Donation Centers: schools, churches, homeless shelters, animal shelters, nursing homes, non-profit organizations, and civic organizations have an ongoing need for donated items. Contact these for their latest requests. My mother donated her baby grand piano to a local nursing home. The nursing home was ecstatic to receive such a gift and Mom was thrilled to find a happy home for the piano.

General Advice to help parents downsize:

  • Gentle, steady pressure is best. Getting angry or demanding will cause harm, create tension, and slow progress.
  • Work within a parent’s physical ability: the process is emotionally & physically draining. Help set goals and offer to help as often as possible.
  • Let parents make as many decisions as possible. They’re already emotionally involved; giving them the lead will lessen the heartache.
  • Get out of the acquisition phase and into the thinning phase sooner rather than later. Discuss with parents will acquire their stuff or what they would like done with it once they are no longer around. This is a good exercise for all of us.

Downsizing a household will stir up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, but the sooner you discuss the process and plan, the easier it will be when it occurs.

Are you or a parent downsizing? What were your experiences? Do you have suggestions to add?

Kristen

Retirement: A New Vision for 50+ Entrepreneurs

Growing old isn’t for sissies. –Bette Davis

It was a short-lived dream: graduate high school & college, find a corporate job, work for 30 or more years and then retire. From there, kick back on a sunny beach or a mountain vista and visit the grandchildren on their birthdays.

My parents groomed me for this version of retirement and I pursued it with intense determination. However, the economy, reality, and change forced everyone to rethink ‘the ideal’ vision. Dreams of beaches and mountain tops fizzled as many of us were tossed into survival mode. What options were available at that time?

  • More education? Reality—too expensive.
  • Oddball jobs? Reality—not enough to cover bills, plus FIERCE competition.
  • Entrepreneurship? Reality—risky, but a possibility.

I chose the latter, as did many of my peers. According to the 1997 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship, roughly 15 percent of new entrepreneurs ranged between 55 to 64 years old. That figure grew to 24 percent in Kauffman’s 2016 Index.

This time period also saw a surge in caring for elderly parents while our adult children moved back home. Many of us survived by cashing in some or all of our retirement funds.

Results:

  • We’re embarking on new career paths of our own making. According to the Intuit 2020 Report: Twenty Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade, 46 percent of the work force will be freelancers by 2020.
  • Family members are moving in. Another report by Housing Perspectives states that multigenerational living in the US will increase by 46 percent over the next 20 years.
  • We’re recouping the retirement funds sacrificed for survival. Although finances are a concern, we’re happier, less stressed, and have more freedom as we build our own business opportunities.
  • We’re establishing a new vision for retirement: We’re encouraging entrepreneurship for our children and grandchildren.
  • Innovation programs and services are growing across the country to assist and encourage entrepreneurship and economic development.

It’s been a tough decade, but we’ve emerged with new plans, goals, and visions. What are you doing to redefine your retirement?

Kristen

Hack Threat! Warning Signs and a Close ‘Call’

“If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked” 
― Richard Clarke

No one wants to be hacked, but there are scums out there who enjoy creating internet or identity mayhem for all of us. Perhaps there is a special Hell for those that create these problems.

I am in hack-threat recovery. I was working on a client project and completing some online banking tasks when my computer locked up and a screen opened from ‘Microsoft’. It mentioned my computer had just been exposed to a serious virus and I needed to act fast (call their customer service number) before my identity, files, and related devices were affected.

At that moment, I wasn’t panicked. I was protected and I had an excellent computer consultant on my team (Kevin Scott of Visionary IT even sent an email updating the latest threats the previous week!) I called Kevin and left a message, but time was ticking. Fear was building. I couldn’t do anything with my computer and the wise choice would have been to shut down–which I should have done.

I can hear you gasping. I still shudder at my actions, too, but I was suddenly shoved into an unknown world without immediate support. Here’s what happened:

A friendly voice greeted me on the other side, asking me what the issue was. His name was ‘Simon’ and he had a charming thick accent. I could hear an unidentifiable foreign language in the background…not like the typical call centers many of us have experienced. WARNING 1.

WARNING 2: he repeatedly asked for screen-sharing access. He insisted it was necessary to identify the problem. When I started questioning him, he mentioned it was obvious my computer needed a ‘tune-up’ much like our vehicles. WARNING 3.

Simon then proceeded to tell me these things happen to good people and that I shouldn’t blame myself. He continued to babble, not allowing me to explain the situation further. WARNING 4.

As Simon continued to insist that this particular virus was highly dangerous, I asked him to wait while I called my IT specialist. He calmly assured me that my IT guy would agree, meanwhile trying to coax me into purchasing a new firewall. He then proceeded to tell me that they work with a very reputable company, called Agape (which he pronounced ah-gop-ay), meaning ‘Jesus loves you’ in Hindu. WARNING 5.

I ended the conversation by saying I won’t make a move without my computer consultant’s knowledge and advice. Simon continued to urge me to act now because this virus infects all devices quickly. I hung up. The entire conversation was just over 2 minutes long.

Moments later, Kevin called me and reassured me that all was well. Simon and his team were scammers who wanted access to my computer in order to hack and steal anything they could access. Kevin then listed several truths about these threats:

  • Microsoft does not respond in this manner regarding your computer. If there is an issue, they send MAILED LETTERS, not emails because of the likelihood of email spamming.
  • Your computer will alert you to threats, not Microsoft—that’s why you have antivirus, antispam, firewalls, and malware alerts installed. If you don’t have them, get them NOW!!
  • Scammers rely on fear, urgency, and ignorance to take advantage of us. You don’t have to be an IT expert to avoid these threats, but you do need to know what precautions to take, which includes the programs listed above.

Other warning signs:

  • questionable links
  • unusual requests
  • things you don’t recognize
  • strange requests or comments from your connections
  • an attempt on their behalf to acquire any type of passwords or access to your computer

While much of this may be basic know-how, I’ve learned a tough lesson to share with you. Please share with everyone but most importantly, protect yourself! Redundancy is better than ignorance.

Kristen

What Will YOU Do When Business Disaster Strikes?

I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Entrepreneurs accept a few truths:

  • The potential for failure
  • A willingness to take chances and accept risks
  • Don’t quit easily—pivot, regroup, rebrand
  • Fail fast & learn from mistakes
  • Believe the risk is worth the reward
  • Will take more time than originally planned
  • Will take more money than originally planned

If we aren’t aware of these certainties as we enter an entrepreneurial pursuit, we soon experience and learn to accept them.

Try as we may to prepare for and avoid the risks and failures, they happen. It’s a part of the journey. Often, these failures present themselves as a financial threat. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some action tips to work you through the snag.

Review your business expenses

What areas can be shifted? Can you eliminate or reduce one service or combine to save money?

Are there overlapping services that can be clarified? If outsourcing business tasks, review with your service providers to ensure that they complement each other rather than compete.

If you attend networking or professional events, can you arrange ride share to save on gas and vehicle expenses? If you attend events that require an attendance fee, consider postponing these until the situation is resolved.

Hold a virtual coffee meeting. Hangouts, Messenger, and Skype make this possible and saves time, money, and traffic headaches for both parties.

Lifestyle review

Similar to the business review, what can be reduced or revised to cut costs to get you through the crisis? This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of necessities, but perhaps instead of going to the theater every weekend, you check out a movie from RedBox (if available), rent a movie from the library, or have an at-home movie night with friends.

What is the state of your emergency fund? If it has been accessed for an unexpected event, is there room for a little more? Can it (and you) spare 10% for the situation?

How soon can you replenish your emergency fund? Make it a habit to contribute regularly and as soon as possible once the crisis is over. Consider: how would you be impacted without the emergency fund?

Additional thoughts

  • Keep emergency fund active; maintain ½ balance
  • Maintain communication with support team & family—not everyone needs to know; just key players & investors
  • Review budget often (monthly is idea, quarterly at a minimum)
  • Have a backup plan: anticipate potential disasters and plan accordingly. Adjust as situations come and go, or if other ideas emerge
  • Fail fast
  • Recover faster
  • Recovery includes free-time to clear the brain which allows new ideas & possibilities in.

Entrepreneurs are a determined group of energized people who understand and accept the risks. If you encounter a crisis, the sooner you take action and implement a recovery plan, the sooner you will be charging forward again.

Got additional ideas to share? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Kristen

Tired of 2nd Place? Step Out for Business Success

“The only thing that is stopping you from where you are to where you want to go is your comfort zone.” – Dhaval Gaudier

When I was 8, I was on a swim team. I loved swimming, I enjoyed training and I even enjoyed the competition. The only thing that held me back was my introverted nature: I feared standing out in a crowd; I feared being the center of attention.

When it came time to race, I became so nervous I barely heard the starting gun—though I never jumped the gun because that meant more attention on me. I didn’t hear the crowd, or the announcers, or my coach.

And I finished 2nd. Often.

It saddened me that I rarely took first place, but looking back, it made sense: #1 got all the attention and the spotlight; #2 was soon forgotten.

That mentality continued for the next 30 years until I became an entrepreneur. Suddenly, my fear of standing out and being the center of attention battled with my desire to be a successful business owner.

It was time to step out: out of my office, out of my comfort zone, out of my fears. Sound like something you need? Here are 5 Step Out practices to implement now.

STEP OUT 1—Attend events: Seek out the events that will build your brand’s awareness and attract your ideal audience (attending targeted events eliminates the awkwardness of feeling lost or out of place). Seek out people that will help put you in contact with ideal people as well.

STEP OUT 2—Introduce yourself: present your elevator speech then ask what issues they face related to your business (attention is on them rather than you).

*HINT: You have a solution to their problem. This is an information-gathering moment and you don’t have to be loud and flashy to do it.*

STEP OUT 3—Listen: listening is one of your strengths as an introvert. Get the conversation started with relevant questions then…listen. Let them talk. Present your solution.

*HINT: people want to be heard and want someone to LISTEN. Be that person and you’ve stepped into the coveted know-like-trust realm*

STEP OUT 4—Follow-up: now you have information to nurture the relationship and build yourself as a subject matter expert. The follow-up gives you the introvert-friendly way to do that. Let your content marketing plan do the heavy work:

  • newsletters
  • blogs
  • emails
  • social media
  • new platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope

All of these can be performed anywhere on the planet—including your quiet zone. Share everywhere. Explore new platforms. Be creative and experiment.

STEP OUT 5—Seek opportunities: regardless of where you are on the introvert-extrovert scale, the greatest growth comes from reaching out. There are people and organizations that are looking for experts to fill their schedule. Be the first to respond.

  • Offer to sit on a panel discussion in your expertise
  • offer to present at an industry-related event
  • reach out to podcast hosts to become a guest
  • volunteer to speak at a school, networking event, or professional organization

Yes, this is a huge undertaking for introvert business owners, but it’s a moment in time that carries a lot of weight toward business success. Start small, but start now! Step out for that moment then build from the results.

Kristen

Business Plans: the New View for Acquiring Loans

When I started my freelance writing business in 2008, my early projects included business plans, resumes, and cover letters. At that time, more was better and a lengthy, detailed business plan was considered the gold standard.

I recently attended a national bank’s presentation on Funding Options for Small Business and one of the panel presenters stated that those gold standard business plans were now detrimental to the process. The reason: lenders want the facts. No need for fluff, graphics, or dissertation-quality business plans.

Then what makes a loan-worthy business plan? Keeping it simple and precise! Here’s what lenders are looking for:

Executive summary

  • Describe the business that’s being started.
  • How will it be managed & operated?
  • What is the business owner’s experience that will make it successful?
  • How will it be marketed?

Operation & systems:

  • How will the financials be handled? QuickBooks, paper, accountant?
  • How will spending be tracked and reported?

Financial plan:

  • 3 years of projected income—during the 1st year, break down income and expenses monthly; 2nd & 3rd year can be yearly projections.
  • Where is the money coming from? Where is the money going?
  • What factors will affect the net profit?

Projecting this information isn’t easy, but the overall purpose is to be realistic and honest in your expectations. Make your projections attainable to avoid unnecessary stress. Following this format, a stress free business plan can be generated in 6 to 10 pages; less than that gets questionable.

The second half of the lending process remains the same. Your lenders will examine personal and professional tax records to get an overview of your financial history. Proof of income is needed to gain a loan, and collateral may be required.

To expand a business requires money so the more prepared you are and the precision with which you prepare, will make the process easier for everyone. Talk to banking specialists, business experts, and utilize the resources available to make the process simpler for you too. Your business plan is your first content piece to get your business rolling.

Kristen Edens

Cashing in Your 401K for Your Second Act? Think Again.

According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: In 2012, almost a quarter of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs 55 and older, a spike from 14 percent in 1996.

Why this spike?

Many of us grew up with our parent’s view of the American Dream: attending college and graduating with a secure job at a top corporation. We were to be the envy of the neighborhood and the pride of the family. However, that vision was tough to realize. We could give the appearance of success and contentment on the outside, but inside was a different story:

  • The job was too stressful
  • The job was stagnant
  • Competition was fierce
  • There was no room for growth
  • We were restless

Similarly, the 2008/2009 recession left many older employees laid off and unable to find new employment. After a year or two of failed job searches, most pursued their own business ventures.

However, desperation played heavily into the need for employment. On the heels of that desire, was the need for capital to fund our entrepreneurial pursuit—and the new American Dream.

But another question emerged: should we take on a small business loan? Many 50+ entrepreneurs already had debt—mortgage, automobile, student loans (most likely their children’s student loans)—and were hesitant to take on more debt.

Understandable. Especially when retirement was 5 to 10 years away and we still wanted to live that dream.

Another big issue: impatience! We’re over 50! We still have visions of some sort of retirement dream and we’re spinning our wheels on what that will be. We want it now and because of that, we are tempted to make hasty decisions…

…like cashing in the 401K, IRA, or other savings plan. As the Entrepreneur in Action blog writer for Missouri SourceLink, 7 of the 9 second act entrepreneurs I interviewed in the last 2 years have turned to their savings to fund their business.

The appeal:

  • Readily available
  • Involved a large, tempting sum
  • No debt
  • The potential to earn it back

Sounds ideal, right? BUT—consider these points first:

  • Do you have other streams of income to balance the risk?
  • How will this decision influence your financial goals?
  • What will be your revised financial growth plans for the future?
  • What will you do if the business fails?
  • Penalties can account for 30% of the funds available if this option is taken.
  • Are you willing to accept these risks?
  • Are you prepared to work as hard, if not harder, than when you worked in a corporate setting?

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but it’s critical to break through the emotional fog. On the plus side of your vision:

  • You have identified a product or service need
  • The potential to build something to call your own is real
  • You have the chance to live life your own way: stay at home with family, no more commute, flexible work hours, etc.

Do the PROS outweigh the risks?

When in the throes of new business excitement and the emotion kicks into high gear, step back and consider your options.

Unlike during the recession, banks are now willing to work with new and small business. Talk with lending officers. Lots of them. Get the facts and seek the options.

Before cashing in your savings, speak with a financial advisor. There are alternatives available that could be applied to your business that don’t carry as much risk or penalties.

Consult others who have cashed in their savings. Listen to their stories, ask their advice. Make an informed decision.

It’s tempting to dip into that magical money pot, taunting us to spend now, but step back, take a breath and weigh all the options. There are several available to help pursue your new American Dream.