If you’ve been following Workable Wealth for a bit, you know that I’ve deemed 2014 as the year of transition.

Heading into this year, Brian (my husband) and I were facing a mountain of change. Not only did I transition to running Workable Wealth full time, but Brian was gearing up to close out his 10 years of service with the Navy and transition to a job in the civilian sector. To top that off, we somehow got an itch to put our downtown San Diego condo on the market and simultaneously roll our dice with the family planning stage of life.

There’s nothing like trying to cross off all the items on your to-do list at once, right?!

What ensued in the early months of this year was a bit of frenzy and chaos. Of COURSE we had taken on too much and it was damn near impossible to conquer everything at once. Financially, we had the cushion for a transition like this and thought we had it figured out. Fast forward to the end of January when we got news that the family planning stage was not going to be as easy as thought. Amidst all of the transition happening, we were handed a referral to a fertility specialist and entered into a whole new world of numbers, treatments, and costs in February of this year.

Handling life’s transitions can be stressful for anyone. Below are 4 steps to handling the change and details on how things have been tackled in the Storjohann house.

Communicate. Change is stressful. Period. Although it can lead to amazing things and opportunities, it can still be scary. The best thing you can do for your finances and your relationships during these times is to talk about it. Whether it’s with your spouse, another family member or friend. I admit, this is hard to do even in our house sometimes. What’s important is that you take time to craft your own opinion on topics and then come together for a conversation. Some key questions that come up in our house are:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • Would you prioritize “A” or “B” first? Why do you feel that way?
  • What do you think makes the most sense for us financially?
  • If we were to work towards “A” or “B” first, at what point would you feel secure in refocusing on the next goal?

Prioritize. Let’s be honest. We can’t do it all – at least not all at once. When you’re facing down multiple goals or transitions, stop to think about what is the MOST important thing for you to conquer right now? What makes the most sense for you to tackle first?

For many, it comes down to balancing goals of paying down debt, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement, traveling with friends and family and maybe buying that new home in the next 3-5 years. That is A LOT. Selecting a few items to work towards first is what will set you up to meet the remaining goals successfully.

In our case, it came down to Brian securing a job. Obviously moving in the middle of a job search just doesn’t make sense when you’re not sure where you’re going to end up. We were hoping and praying for a position that would keep us in San Diego, but ultimately, had no idea how it would turn out. It made the most sense to tackle that issue first and put the move on the back burner.

Get a head start. The early bird gets the worm for a reason.

When it came to tackling the job transition, Brian was networking, doing informational interviews, and reaching out to friends, family and old colleagues to learn about the opportunities available months in advance. He was professional, inquisitive and always incredibly appreciative for the time others spent with him. I’m super proud to say he had his first day at his new position this week – with a month of terminal leave left in the Navy.

When it came to the house search, San Diego is a HUGE area. There are a ton of communities to consider and we’re currently still narrowing them down. However starting at the beginning of this year, we made our list of possibilities and started to get more familiar with each area so that when we are ready to list our property in the next few months, we’ll have a lot more clarity on the areas we like. In addition, we made a list of “must haves,” “would be nice to have” and “absolute no’s” for our new home (Counter space in the bathroom is a must. Swimming pools in the back are a no). Putting the time in to prepare and do research early for any kind of financial transition you’re making will keep stress levels lower and prevent you from scrambling.

Have a plan. Yes, your plan may not always work out, but having SOMETHING in place will give you a starting point to amend from along the way.

Financially, we were prepared for career changes and a new home purchase this year. We never thought to consider fertility treatments and the high costs that come along with the options. That was one of life’s curveballs that we’ve thankfully been able to take in stride. Because we had a strategy in place with the numbers attached, we’ve been able to plan for some of the options we may be facing in the months and years ahead. If we hadn’t had clarity around income, a savings in place or researched what we can and can’t afford for a new home, this news could have thrown a big wrench into our lives. So yes, our plan won’t work out as initially drafted, but like I tell my clients, your financial life is not a straight path from A to Z. It’s more of a jungle gym with ups, downs, crossovers and crossbacks throughout. But no matter where you’re at on the journey, it’s best to take time every now and then to stop, pause, and adjust your course along the way.