Take shelter

In the face of the unspeakable horror of Tuesday, Sept. 11, Americans have pulled together like never before.

We cannot begin to express the enormity of the loss of life or the incomprehensible evil of the perpetrators. Yet the outpouring of support for each other across the country renews our faith in the ideals of America.

One of the lessons learned from this tragedy is that life is delicate, fleeting, and we can never know when it might be taken from us. So we resolve to say, “I love you,” more often or stop putting things off until tomorrow. Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives as we wonder, “What will they do?”

It makes us think about our own families and how they depend on us. A primary concern is about how our families would get along financially.

Are you a sole supporter, juggling your daily commitments with long-term goals? What if something happened to you, your job or your income?

Are you a spouse, seeking the best way to share assets and make choices with your partner while taking into account your individual needs and attitudes?

Are you a parent, raising children and trying to save for their education?

Are you a caregiver, responsible for aging parents as you try to balance your own needs and those of your family?

This tragedy has made many of us feel vulnerable and like we have no control. At the same time, we have become concerned with the financial aspects of what is happening to our economy. So, what can we do?

Keep the faith. There are many reasons to remain confident in America’s future. Look at how we’ve banded together to form a unified front: Congress, interfaith memorial services, the orderly reopening of the financial markets.

Don’t panic. Our tendency is to give in to our emotional response to immediate concerns. These knee-jerk reactions are not always consistent with our long-term goals. So, be patient and think before you make a move. Stick to basic principles of investing; they still apply.

Tend to your personal affairs. Your life and the transitions you must undertake as your needs and those of your family change are complicated. Adjusting your financial plan in response is even more complex, and something that many of us put off.

Sometimes the best way to tackle life planning issues is to break down the strategies and review them with your financial adviser. These strategies include:

  • Organizing and managing your finances
  • Reducing your taxes
  • Structuring your joint assets to reduce probate costs and hassles;
  • Financing your children’s educations
  • Paying for medical expenses and elder care
  • Planning for your retirement
  • Building an estate to leave for your heirs

Sept. 11th and the days that followed have been filled with anger, fear, sadness and frustration. But there are things we can do to regain our balance and feel in control. Remember, we are Americans, and what we have accomplished as a country and as individuals has made us strong.

We do not let tragedies change our resolve. As we begin to make sense of what has happened, we must never forget, and we must always believe in ourselves and our country.

Brent Bruckner is a financial adviser with Advest Inc.’s Canton office. He can be reached at (330) 499-1611.