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Have you ever noticed, financially speaking, when it rains, it pours?
For example, when times are tight, you are more likely to bounce a payment from the bank. The bank is quick to attack with fees that drain your account even further, making it possible that more things will bounce and more fees added. Or, when you have a significant medical bill, you also end up taking time off work. Therefore, you have less money to tackle that enormous bill.
Leave It To Good Ol’ Murphy
If you’ve ever read my website, The Organic Prepper, you know that I’m concerned about big things like pandemics, nuclear war, and riots in the streets of America. But I know (from painful experience) that personal things can cause a lot of upheavals when you are on a tight budget. And if Murphy’s Law holds true (and it often does), whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, generally at the worst possible time.
But despite this, you can take those challenges and learn from them. While you’re wrestling them into submission, you can use this chance to find a bright side.
Here’s one example from a financial catastrophe I ran into a few years ago. (And lest you have the urge to immediately unsubscribe from someone who preaches financial preparedness, please note that I’ve managed to raise two girls on a single mom budget AND put them through college without debt. It’s just that life, in general, these days is fraught with financial pitfalls we must leap over or climb out from.)
My Personal Catastrophe
I was driving down the road one day when I noticed my car was beginning to overheat. I pulled over, let it cool down, and limped in at 20 miles an hour to a nearby shop, hoping it was something minor like a leaky radiator cap.
Alas, it was something big like leaky head gaskets. And by big, I mean about $2000. Oh, and another week or so without a vehicle. My poor little emergency fund, which I had been cultivating and growing, was immediately kaput, along with a couple of weeks of pay. Imagine my delight.
I was distraught. In a funk. Blue as the moon.
Attitude Adjustment Coming Up!
I decided to wax philosophical and find the bright side. If I allowed myself to linger in that funk, all I would do is think about what I was missing stuck at home and how the awfulness of everything.
I started feeling ever-so-slightly better when I thought to myself, “Hey, this is ‘practice’ for a real, genuine, can’t-leave-the-house disaster. I can write about this.” Not much better, but better enough that I was not weeping into my coffee or planning a dramatic 10-mile walk to the nearest Starbucks to plunge face-first into a gigantic Frappuccino for solace.
Then I started thinking about stuff that I wanted from the store before my SUV dramatically gave up its grip on drivability. Like laundry detergent, for example. I was also going to pick up some veggies and other items from the Farmer’s Market.
Alas, What I Had Was, Well, What I Had.
Then I started thinking about awesome ways to deal with these things. Soon, I felt inspired and energized by the challenges. Also, I could write about the sad reflection of the economy that many are in similar situations, where one sizeable unexpected expense can be life-altering. (At least temporarily.)
While it still bites the big one that I had to spend $2000 on a vehicle repair, as soon as I changed my attitude and began thinking about solutions instead of problems, I felt a thousand times better and reverted to my usual optimistic self.
As Einstein said: Everything is energy, and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but to get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.
Time to Be Creative in Your Solutions.
In response to my instant, “Oh my gosh, I’m stranded, and I need so much stuff from the store” reaction, I took inventory of what I had on hand to fulfill those needs.
I’d been planning to make my own laundry detergent for ages. In fact, I had all of the supplies on hand in such abundance that I could have washed clothes from now until the Second Coming and still have homemade laundry soap left over. (You can read about making your own laundry detergent right here.)
When it Comes to Food, Wants Aren’t Needs.
We had, as always, a stockpile in the pantry, home-canned goods, and stuff in the freezer. Honestly, if we didn’t go to the store or farmer’s market for the next six months, we would still have eaten well. It might have become repetitious, but we’d be nourished and far from hungry. Plus, I always have vast amounts of coffee on hand, so I’ll be pleasant throughout whatever apocalypse might strike.
I realized that, honestly, there wasn’t one single thing I desperately needed that I couldn’t make or improvise. And maybe I’m weird, but I find improvisation to be a lot of fun. I get an actual “rush” when my make-shift solutions end up working well. You know that quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I like that far better than the Murphy quote.
Silver Linings DO Exist
We had moved recently when our vehicle gave that sickening gasp. Now that we were on foot, my daughter and I decided to go for a walk on a different route each day to explore our new area. It was some great Mom/kid time, good exercise, and we learned more about our surroundings.
In many personal catastrophes, there are similar perks if you look at them the right way.
- A loss of a job means you have more time to spend with your family.
- A financial crunch means that you might spend more time cooking wholesome ingredients from scratch instead of buying fast food or convenience items.
- Not having a vehicle means you save money because you have no place to spend money.
- If you have more time on your hands, no matter what the reason, you can get going on some of those projects you’ve been putting off.
- When you need something you can’t afford to pay for, you can sometimes learn a new skill and create it yourself.
- If the power goes out, the family comes together. There are no video games or TV shows, or internet-surfing sessions to get in the way of hanging out. Some of the best memories come from times like these.
Challenges Build Character
By learning to turn a negative situation into a more positive experience, we become stronger and more adaptable. That’s what survival is all about. The most well-read person on the planet will have difficulty adapting to troublesome times if they’ve never had to do so. How you react to those bad things that happen is the true definition of the person you are.
Personally, I choose happiness and optimism. The rain always stops falling eventually. And then the flowers can grow.
When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. ~Peter Marshall
What about you?
Have you ever run into a sudden, unexpected financial catastrophe? What happened? How did you handle it? Let’s discuss it in the comments. Your story could help to inspire others who are dealing with money problems.