Conversation Starters – In Crisis

Conversation Starters for When the Going Gets Rough

Getting Started

When in crisis, they are especially vulnerable to poor financial decision-making and fraud. If you find yourself dealing with a job loss, personal property damage, divorce or separation, illness, or death in the family, don’t rush into any emotional decisions about your family’s financial future. Take the time to ask yourself and your loved ones the below questions to more safely navigate out of a potentially devastating financial situation.


  • Do you have an accurate picture of your new financial situation (i.e. income, assets, expenses and bills)?
  • Where can you make cuts to your expenses and lifestyle to compensate for a loss of income or unexpected expense?
  • Who can you trust to help you develop a workable budget if handling the family finances is a new responsibility for you or your physical or mental health are in decline?
  • What are your options for financial assistance (i.e. unemployment insurance, death benefits, divorce settlement)?
  • Have you considered hiring an attorney to help you secure financial assistance and handle the paperwork?


  • Are you aware of any penalties, fees or tax implications if you find you need to dip into your savings or retirement funds early?
  • Have you considered all other alternatives to withdrawing from your retirement or savings accounts (i.e. student loans, down-sizing your lifestyle)?
  • Are you monitoring your credit reports to evaluate the impact of your financial decisions on your future ability to get credit?
  • Have you added or deleted names of individuals or firms that should have access to your accounts in light of your new situation?
  • Can you develop a savings plan to restore funds you used in this crisis and build a new rainy day fund for any future financial emergencies?


  • Do you know the location of all your investments and assets?
  • Who can help you to make investment decisions if you need advice or if you are unable to make decisions for yourself?
  • Are you sure you are working with an investment professional who is properly registered and licensed?
  • If there has been a change in who in your household is managing the investments, have you contacted the financial institutions or professionals handling your investments to learn if you have to file any paperwork or take any steps to ensure you are notified of all account activity?
  • Can you postpone making any investment decisions until after the emotional stress of your situation has subsided?

Scams and Frauds

  • What should you consider when seeking financial advice or assistance from a family member or friend?
  • How can you check out the background of the people or agencies approaching you about how to manage your insurance or settlement funds or reduce your debt?
  • What signs should you look for to help you spot a fraud?
  • If you suspect you have been approached about a scam, what should you do?
  • How can you stay aware of current investment scams and fraud?


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