- Marc Nadel
Money is a difficult subject for a lot of people to talk about. Perhaps owing to old-fashioned Yankee modesty, Vermonters in particular tend to get uncomfortable when asked about their finances. That's true even under ideal circumstances. But what about when things get bad? Like, bad bad? Like, real-life disaster movie bad?
Turns out, global calamity has a way of loosening people up about previously taboo topics, as Seven Days staffers discovered again and again while reporting for our annual Money Issue. Certainly, there's no shortage of money-related subjects to talk about during a pandemic, even if most of them are, frankly, depressing AF.
"Nothing about this is normal," investment adviser Dan Cunningham told us in what might be the understatement of the year. He's the founder of One Day in July, an investment advisory company headquartered in Shelburne. Cunningham was referring to the perfect storm of conditions that has led financial markets, and thus your 401k, to crater. He graciously offered a few mind tricks investors use to stay sane amid financial meltdowns.
Granted, the news all over is pretty dire. So, if you need a more holistic and curative approach to money matters, you might schedule an appointment (virtually, of course) with one of Vermont's financial therapists. Like traditional psychotherapists, they can give you tools for building healthier relationships — but with money.
Overcoming the stigma of indebtedness is one thing financial therapists might help you with. That's familiar territory for Vermont photographer Brittany Powell. After filing for bankruptcy herself, she spent seven years working on the Debt Project, a series of photos and stories of people struggling to make ends meet.
Powell has turned the Debt Project into a book that's due out this fall. But if she wanted to continue her work, she'd have no trouble finding new subjects to profile. The coronavirus has already ravaged the state's annual budget, which will cause headaches and shortfalls for years to come. Vermont's growing legion of unemployed workers will likely welcome the federal stimulus package, which includes relief for gig economy workers. However, it's unclear when self-employed workers might actually see a check. Equally uncertain is which small businesses will be granted federal loans after banks were overwhelmed with applications.
On the bright side, relief funds have been established for local bartenders, baristas and other food-service industry workers. We'll drink to that, especially since it's unlikely we'll be raising a glass at a wedding anytime soon.