These Are the Times!

“These are the times that try men’s souls!”

These often remembered words of Thomas Paine were written in “The Crisis” a series of articles published during the American Revolutionary War. On December 23, 1776, when Paine wrote these words he described in detail the time of the revolution. He began the closing to this article with the following quote:

“I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it.”

Despite the drastic and incomprehensible moves of the market, with all indices falling substantially over the past two weeks, we are all living in far better times than those of Thomas Paine. We have luxuries our founders could never imagine. Our feelings of fear and worry may create feelings of guilt.

How can we be worried and fearful about our economic future as we read the news on our computers or smartphones and sit in our air conditioned living spaces? There is no reason to feel guilty, we did not live in a time where winning meant survival. In our experience, our security and independence depends on our ability to handle our money responsibly. For investors, and borrowers, these are trying times.

It seems reasonable to worry or fear but the key to surviving and thriving is recognizing that neither fear nor worry help. In addition to creating stress in our homes and workplace, and causing a variety of stress-related health problems, neither worry nor fear offer anything of value. They actually make it impossible for us to see clearly, to understand our personal and financial situations, and to see our way into the future.

It’s easy to blame DC, S&P, or members of the opposite political party, and, doubtless, some of that blame is deserved. But blame does not accomplish anything. Our focus must be on our own situation and what we need to do now.

Paine said “I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it.”

Do you know your situation well? Do you see your way out of it?

Knowing the answers to these questions is critical if you want to avoid reacting, often emotionally, to economic and political events. If you know and understand your situation and you have developed a long-term plan to reach your personal goals and objectives, you are ahead of most people. If you don’t know your situation or don’t have a long-term plan, now is the best time to find your own answers.

Yes, the Dow Jones Industrials fell over 500 points last Thursday and over 600 points yesterday. It may rebound or fall again today, who knows? While drops of this level are not common, they are an expected characteristic of the markets which is why only long-term money should be invested in the stock market. The key to handling any market is knowing your situation, having a plan, and sticking to your plan.

These are the times that try our souls! It’s rough, no doubt about it. But fear, worry, doubt, and guilt are not a solution. By following the advice of Thomas Paine, you can avoid the emotional rollercoaster and get through the toughest financial crisis. Even this one!

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7 Responses to “These Are the Times!”

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  1. Great inspiration, Paul! This is a great reminder that when times get rough, to put the emotions aside and find a solution. There’s always a solution, you just have to search for it, and having a clear mind is key to being able to find it!

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Travis! It was not my intended post, but a fellow coffee drinker said this morning, “These are the times that try men’s souls” and I wrote this column a few minutes later. The hardest thing for people to do, particularly in difficult times, is maintain a clear mind. But, as you point out, a clear mind is the key to finding a solution.

  2. I appreciate this encouraging post. It does seem like a very trying time, but there is little that I can do on a national level to change anything. What I can do is focus on my own finances and begin to manage my own budget planning for the future.

  3. Another great post Paul!

    I’d have to say… I checked my bank account the last few days, and I still have my money in there less whatever I purchased. Therefore, I’m good!

    Unfortunately, there must be way too many people that either:

    A) Rely on the market for cash, which doesn’t start hurting them until companies start discontinuing dividends and capital gains (which they won’t as companies have records of cash on hand today)… Otherwise these people are draining their investment accounts by eating principal, if so.. Good luck.

    B) Have too short of a time horizon. My view is that this is a great time to purchase and make money in the future. Unless you’re retiring in the next month or two, don’t mess your drawers. If you were planning to retire, work another year.

    Regardless, things WILL BE FINE. Understand your financial situation and do the best you can. You can’t change the idiots in Washington today, so change yourself first!

    Now let’s make some money on cheap stock prices 🙂

    Eric

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Eric!

      Markets falling again today, but this column is not about the short-term battles we face. Rather, it is the long-term where we should focus.

      Thanks for following me and commenting! I really appreciate it!

      Paul

  4. Oh, how I long to believe you! But I’m a history fanatic, and the results in Wisconsin tonight tell me that things aren’t going to change radically.

    Frankly, I truly suspect a 2nd Great Depression is in our future.

    I don’t like it. I don’t want to think it. But we are primed to fail.

    All the pieces are there on the puzzle, just waiting to be put in place. And high people in high places have been placing those pieces for decades.

    The time is here. I think it’s too late for the middle class to wake up and see what’s going on. If they haven’t yet, then when will they?

    I’ve met you on #usguys, and have read you often. Yet here I am with my left wing opinion, and yet I honestly don’t know which way you lean!

    Talk about brash! <—-That's me, here. ;D

  5. Paul Puckett says:

    Thank you for your comment and for following me on Twitter! I recognize your Avatar so I am probably already following you too!

    Since your comment began with Wisconsin and includes some politics, allow me to thank you for saying you “honestly don’t know which way you lean!” It may sound odd, but I consider that a high compliment!

    I will answer your question on my politics, but it may not be exactly the simple answer you are requesting. I am not a member, or automatic supporter, of either political party. So the short answer is, I’m independent. I try, very hard at times, to avoid taking positions on specific political issues because I want everyone, from the farthest right to the farthest left and all in between or beyond, to overcome their deepest investment fears! Difficult, but I try to be as apolitical as possible. I have many friends in both mainstream parties. At times, I have been accused of being a Republican and at other times a Democrat!

    So, I’ll leave you with this thought. The seeds of great and terrible things are always present. Which seeds grow and produce fruit is rarely known in advance. As individuals it may seem we have little control over the future. But we can each use the time we have now to water and fertilize the seeds for what we believe is great!

    Over the course of humanity’s time on Earth, we have survived and thrived despite sometimes terrible events. I believe we should focus on how much we have improved and on those areas where we still have challenges.

    Best regards and see you on Twitter,

    Paul

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