Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Hurricane Analogy

I find it interesting and very challenging in most cases to discuss a negative financial forecast with individuals. It is human nature for us all to be optimistic. I believe that optimism is a key survival trait for our species. With that said, there are times when we need to balance reality when making key decisions.

I think that the hurricane provides a very good analogy. History tells us that in the past, some storms have created significant damage and cost lives. From this, we've learned to evacuate to protect ourselves. We essentially have become smarter with time. I don't ever recall being called a pessimist because I believed that a hurricane was heading my way.

Having lived in the Gulf Coast my entire life, I'm familiar with the preparation process. The first step in the process is that someone knowledgable (meteorologist) presents a scenario where your home could be effected by the storm. Awareness is obtained. Step two, you put a plan together in case the hurricane does head towards you. That plan will include protecting your possessions and family. Only so much can be done to protect your possessions, but driving the family out of town is a proven successful strategy. Step 3 is to monitor the progress of the storm. The storm provides early clues such as increased wind speed, drop in barometric pressure, and tidal surge. All three of these provide enough warning to prevent loss of life.

Once the storm is confirmed to likely cross your path, you evacuate with your family and pets. Your remaining possessions will be victims of nature's wrath.

Now that we've successfully survived a hurricane, use the exact same process for your family's financial well being. The only difference is that the meteorologists have a range of opinions. Educate yourself and then select the storm forecast that you believe to be most likely. But, like a hurricane, have multiple plans in case your forecast is wrong.
Lastly, don't be the person left on the rooftop or sleeping in the Superdome. Hurricanes have hit the coast for ever, so don't assume that one won't be coming this season.

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