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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.
3 thoughts on “Money Problems: When it Rains, It Pours”
Oh yeah! Done this, been there. Back in 1993 I found myself with no job, no UEI, no money, and a bit unemployable due to a boss-hating attitude. This was a problem when it came to paying bills. What helped, as you’ve pointed out, was focusing on solutions. I got off of my butt, got a small business going with the last of my money, and managed to keep my small apartment along with a full belly. All of these years later I’m still successfully self-employed, albeit in a different and much more lucrative business, and happy. Clients are better than bosses. LOL
Necessity is the mother of invention and motivation is invention’s twin sibling.
My first job after being widowed depended on having a vehicle every day to keep the job. That would have been 2005. I was driving a little Toyota Turcell- 1988 model. The waterpump went out and it overheated. Warped head. That was a Friday afternoon. If I didn’t have a car on the road by Monday I didnt have a job.
Saturday I started calling all over the state to find someone that would sell me a used car with nothing down. I had been catching up old bills after 2 years with no income so I had zero savings at that moment. But I had a steady job that depended on a dependable vehicle.
After a couple of hours of calling around a dealership in a town over 60 miles away talked with me. Heard my predicament and asked directions to my home out in the country. A salesman came to pick me up. Took me out to a fast food lunch, then on to the dealership. I met the owner who asked lots of questions, then told me to wait in the service waiting area. Later I heard they had had a fast board meeting. The salesman offered to give up 75% of his commission. 😢
They were servicing a silver car so I watched while they did an oil change and a brake job. Then the owner came and asked me to go with the salesman that I’d met. I filled out all the application papers for credit. Then the salesman with a big grin said, “follow me”. I followed him outside as he walked up to the silver car I’d watched getting serviced. He handed me the keys and explained it was a loaner for two weeks. In two weeks we will have your credit report, confirmation of employment, and find something you can afford and find financing. They sent me on my way with a full tank of gas and a nice 2 year old car to save my job. In two weeks I drove back over there to return the loaner full of curiosity about if they really could sell me a car.
I again was met by the owner. I filled out a loan agreement and all the paperwork to buy a car with no car yet listed on the papers. And I wasn’t asked to sign, yet.
Again the salesman told me to follow him out to the lot. There were three car sitting there and I was told those fit my credit and I should choose one. I choose a dark blue 2003 Ford Focus with 28,000 miles on it. We went back inside to finish the paperwork. On paper I traded in the Toyota for $1200 and bought it back for $1. The first three months I was to pay $300 a month to cover a down payment. Then pay $242 a month till it was paid for. I almost cried with joy signing that contract. The car had just come in so it hadn’t been serviced. They filled the tank with my promise to bring it back for service on Saturday.
Saturday I drove back and they did an oil change, put on new brakes, then detailed the car so it was spotIess inside and out. The owner again dropped by the service area to ask how I liked my car. I was thrilled with it and utterly blown away by them caring enough to save my job and figuring out a way to make the down payment.
I made double payments as often as I could while also building up a rainyday fund. I paid it off one year early and actually got a refund check for the unused portion of the interest on the loan.
I’ve always lived on a budget or a plan to pay the bills, set aside 10% for savings, then wisely spend the rest. I’ve hit some bumps in the road recently and used up the savings and gotten behind on one Bill that I just caught up last week. Now to start a new rainy day fund.
We’re both retired and on Social Security and have been for several years. I have recentIy started using a community food bank twice a month. The excess meats and vegetables are getting canned. Last week I canned a cabbage vegetable soup with pork. 3 quarts and 7 pints I kept and 2 quarts plus a pint I gave to a neighbor who drove me town and gave me her 2 cabbages from the pantry. I have one more cabbage to make sourkraut with. I still have 2 mangos, some almost overripe apples, and lots of nuts to do something with. Probably mangoes with dinner today and applesauce from 2 bags of apples. I will can that tomorrow. Probably with a bit of sugar and cinnamon for more flavor. I may can more of the pork slices as I can’t freeze it. I can 2 in a pint jar with chicken bullion and water for broth. The slices can be diced for stir fry, patted dry then breaded and fried, ect. The broth goes in soup or gravy. Husband loves pot pies in a pie crust topped with mashed potatoes. He also loves any kind of gravy over a biscuit.
Tomatoes are blooming, a few setting. Zuchinni are just blooming the first make flowers. So it won’t be long till they are producing. High mountain desert so the season tends to be short or cool enough we get frost and the plants are finally full of green tomatoes. I cover them at night and un cover on warm days and often harvest vine ripened tomatoes most of the winter. I’m planning to build double layer hinged hoop over the tomatoes. I’m salvaging a lot of 2×3 wood from an old mobiIehome. I’ll build a frame around the long row 8f tomatoes then the double layer hoop with welded wire field fencing. I have 100ft of 4′ 2″x4″. I build a hoop as long as the row. Roll and nail plastic to 2×3 boards and cover the hoop. Then build a second wire hoop and again cover it in plastic. Everything screwed to a bottom wooden frame hinged to the frame around the tomatoes and anchored with twist stakes. That way it can be opened on warm sunny days.
The wild amaranth is just getting big enough to be good eating. I let it take over a good space in the garden where it gets rabbit droppings and water. It will stay tender eating for the next coupIe of months. I usually dry a lot and can a lot. We prefere it as our greens of choice. The boc choy are almost big enough for harvesting. I love them for stir frying. Peas and green beans are blooming. I’ll soon be busy canning from the garden.
The assortment from the community pantry is much nicer food than I can buy. I’ll continue to get it and can from it. If, or I should say when, SHTF I’ll be better prepared. I’ve work hard all my life. Hauled in thousands of pounds of donated food for a week of sumner camp at the mission and for giving out to the community and some for other missions across the area reservations.
When I was first widowed I lived for a couple of years on stored food left from camp. Now I’m on the other end of the giving and it feels odd. I’m still careful with it. I plan good meals and can things like the soup that will make quick easy meals. I go to town as little as possible. It’s still possible to be “prepping” on foodbank food. I use the fresh meats or can what I can’t freeze to keep it for the two weeks till I go back again. This past week I canned soup and 2 chickens. I cut the chickens in half from neck to tail. Cold packed a half chicken in a large mouthed quart jar. Put a teaspoon of powdered bullion on top and add the boiled lids and hand tighten the rings. Put the 4 quart jars in the pressure canner and followed the instructions for cold packed, bone in chicken. They are sealed and added to my canned goods. They make their own rich broth that will be wonderful for preparing meals later on. The canned meats 2 #5 cans, 2 times a month are mostly set back for future needs. One can went into the big batch of soup to add richness and flavor. There are heavy packs of beef stew. It looks like metal but is pliable like plastic sandwhich bags. Perfect for two servings or stretch it served over rice or mashed potatoes. I let one warm on the car dashboard in full sun. It was perfect for lunch. I have 4 saved back. I was told there will usually be 2 of them twice a month.
I’m just pointing out that you can really still prep on very little if you plan and are careful. I like the dried wild amaranth leaves or lambsquarters leaves. They reconstitute nicely with just some boiling water. Then season as you wish. Spinach works the same way. It’s easy to store a lot of dried Ieaves crumbled into a glass jar. I use old pickle jars. Of course I often can some pints of wild greens to make full canner loads. I gather and dry wild teas as well. Once dry things are stored in my 30, 1 gallons glass pickle jars. I even dry stems of desert mallow. It makes an ok hot tea but is a wonderful leaving hair rinse that will leave your hair shinning. Wild Cota, or Indian tea, is my favorite hot or cold. I aim for several jars of dried leaves for eating with our meals. If kept away from direct sunlight the Ieaves and teas will retain their color and be good for several years. I’m building a small storeroom by the backdoor for the jars and bags of grain. Freezing wont hurt them but sunlight will.
My kids used to laugh at me always saving things. They don’t anymore. Each has experienced enough unexpected hard times to also be savers now.
WOW, I am blown away. Your resilience is amazing!!!