Mar 142016
 

I think believing in superstitions is bad luck. But bad things can happen to anyone. So one way to deal with unexpected situations is to be like Batman and have a contingency plan for everything. 🙂 I’ve recently updated my stress test page to reflect my current financial situation, which has improved since last year. A stress test removes uncertainty and doubt about our finances so we can sleep better at night. 😉

A Worst Case Scenario

Just for fun I have created a hypothetical worst case scenario to see if my finances could survive it. Consider the following events.

The economy contracts. People panic. The Canadian real estate bubble bursts and prices drop by 40%. Stock markets also fall 40%. Jobless claims skyrocket. I get laid off from both my jobs on the same day without notice. On my way to the employment insurance office I get T-boned by a distracted driver and my car is written off. The next day a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Vancouver hard. My apartment building suffers heavy structural damage and is deemed unsafe to live in.

16-03-vancouver-earthquake-damage

Okay, so things may look bad on the surface. But it’s actually fine, because the whole point of creating a stress test is to protect ourselves against these unlikely what if scenarios. I may be frustrated after all the unfortunate events, but at least I’ll still be okay financially. 🙂 Here’s how things would play out:

  • My combined severance package would be about $10,000 of after-tax income, enough for 3 months of living expenses.
  • I would qualify for employment insurance benefits.
  • My dividend stocks would continue to pay out regular distributions like they did during the last recession.
  • I have a stash of gold and silver in case I need emergency cash.
  • Auto insurance will cover the car accident.
  • Earthquake insurance would cover the damage to my apartment. Strata owners would hold meetings with the property manager to discuss how to move forward using 3/4 votes as per the bylaws. The insurance company would pay our housing costs if we have to relocate somewhere else temporarily.

Luckily my finances would appear to still hold up through all the turmoil. I would have plenty of time and liquidity to get back on my feet.

How to Stress Test your Finances

Step 1: Make a list of all the risks, uncertainties, or potential issues that could effect your money or financial lifestyle.

For example:
Job loss, flooding, rising interest rates, upcoming major purchases, etc

Step 2: Go through the list one item at a time and make a plan to deal with those risks or issues.

For example:
Job loss -> Understand how much employment insurance you qualify for. Find ways to diversify your income.
House damage -> Purchase adequate insurance for fires, floods, burglary, etc. Know your deductible amount.

Once we have made plans to deal with everything on our list then we should have nothing to worry about anymore. 😉 If we want to be financially stress free this is how we do it. We can even lay out this data in a spreadsheet to easily track everything. Stress testing our finances can help us plan for those what-if scenarios in case they ever happen. Good luck. 😀

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Random Useless Fact

In Quebec, the most popular porn search term is “Quebec”

canada-quebec

pornhub-insights-us-top-search-terms-map

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Chris
Chris
03/14/2016 9:59 am

Question for you – in this stress test scenario, at what point would your debt become an issue? You are probably one of the more highly leveraged PF bloggers I have discovered. I’m just curious how long you think you could make all your required payments and food/shelter etc. Of course, this is all hypothetical and a very negative and unlikely situation, but that’s what stress tests are all about. Take care.

German
03/14/2016 10:49 am

I live in a province of Quebec. I’m glad that Quebec is supporting the local business :):):)

Anon
Anon
03/14/2016 5:48 pm

“Consider the following events. The economy contracts. People panic. The Canadian real estate bubble bursts and prices drop by 40%. Stock markets also fall 40%. Jobless claims skyrocket. I get laid off from both my jobs on the same day without notice. On my way to the employment insurance office I get T-boned by a distracted driver and my car is written off. The next day a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Vancouver hard. ? My apartment building suffers heavy structural damage and is deemed unsafe to live in.” “Here’s how things would play out: My combined severance package would be about $10,000 of after-tax income, enough for 3 months of living expenses.” Are you CERTAIN you would be getting a severance package? What if your two employers both went bankrupt or simply didn’t have the money to pay you severance? After all, there was no notice of lay-off. Have you done a stress test on the viability of your employers? “I would qualify for employment insurance benefits.” Another LOL. If things went really South, qualifying has no correlation on quantifying. EI benefits might be disrupted or delayed — jobless claims skyrocket, remember? Have you done a stress test on… Read more »

S Arun
03/15/2016 4:14 am
Reply to  Anon

Hi Anon,

What is your suggestion? 😀 .

Holding cash under the mattress? It is still not an ideal because as money will get burn in case of fire.

Keep cash in your bank? Worst case bank wouldn’t let you take money out of your account. Just recall the Greece’s recent situation.

Even if you hold cash in your pocket, you need to find someone to sell food for you… 😀 .

I’m just curious what will you suggest? 😀 . Please don’t get me wrong, just curious. 😀

Anon
Anon
03/15/2016 6:29 am

Suggestions? Think more.

Carry your stress test forward. As I stated, you assume the listed stresses effect only you but not the entities on which you will be relying for income and payments. All your contingencies are heavily reliant on continued normal operation, which during times of stress does not happen.

Real life examples? The U.S. in 2008-09+, or Alberta in its current state.

Simple solution — the tried and true “emergency fund”. Keep 1-2 years of liquid reserves (e.g. cash, GIC) on hand; this allows you to act completely independant of all your attached entities (it would also boost your “safe” zone by 20%, to 24 months vs your current 20).

You’re welcome.

Bedford
Bedford
03/15/2016 12:54 pm
Reply to  Anon

Funny discussion here, the site owner discuss the extreme worst cast. What would you do if you can’t access your bank accounts or banks are closed for a month like happended in Greece?

Anon
Anon
03/15/2016 4:50 pm
Reply to  Bedford

Exactly. But then again, Canadian banks now have a “Bail In” clause which would allow them to remain fully operational (outside of an actual physical collapse).

Thinking of Liquid’s “stash of gold and silver”, during the peak prices of the 1980s, dealers were not buying at market prices (e.g. $800/oz).

That’s the thing about being in distress, buyers know and you might end up selling assets for much less than your calculations.

Just take a look at all the real estate deals in the US after the crash, or all the equipment auctions in Alberta right now. Those in stress are in no position to haggle.

S Arun
03/15/2016 4:19 am

Hi Liquid,

This is an extreme worst case stress test.

You forgot your farm land assets. You can still go there build a shelter, do farm and distribute foods for the affected areas. 😀

Cheers

Anon
Anon
03/15/2016 6:15 am

Your farmland is in Saskatchewan. Ever lived through a Sask/prairie winter? If not, you’d better hope all your stresses happen in summer and/or global warming has a really good year.

Anon
Anon
03/16/2016 5:59 am

Prime example of what I stated:
Jobless Canadians wait more than a month to find out if eligible for EI
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/politics/canada-unemployment-benefits-wait-1.3491761

Average wait time is almost 40 days just to find out if you are eligible. That’s about 30% of your 20-week stress buffer without having received a single payment. Imagine the wait time when jobless claims skyrocket.

If you had a two year cash emergency fund (~18% of your net worth), none of the above would matter.

FerdiS
04/22/2016 6:39 am

Planning for worst case scenarios is better than not planning at all — so good for you for doing so!

The worst worst case scenario I can think of is a catastrophic coronal mass ejection that fries all electronics. I don’t plan for or think about that scenario. If it happens, we’re all f***ed.