This is not the post I intended to write today. You see, I was all prepared to write about how we lower our electric bill, but then... life happened... again.
And I wanted to share some things that might help get you through when you feel like you're in financial survival mode.
But first, back story.
You might remember that last week I wrote a post about How We Saved $6,000 in 6 months after a lot of life happened.
In the course of six months our roof started to leak, our AC went out, we had to replace a tire, our baby needed an echocardiogram (he is fine!), I had a pretty big setback in my business and we found out our insurance company was doing away with our current plan and our monthly payment would be going up $240 a month.
Honestly I thought when I wrote that post last week we were in the midst of a break. No more big life things for a while. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Thursday morning we woke up to find a pipe was leaking under our house.
Needless to say, we have had a lot of unexpected expenses and frankly, it's been a little exhausting.
We got the pipe fixed, it was expensive, but I am glad we caught it before it tore up the foundation to our house and caused a lot of damage. I am also glad it was just one pipe and that, unlike our next-door neighbor, we aren't having to have our entire house replumbed.
It's all going to be okay. This is life. Life happens. Sometimes a lot of life happens all at once. Call me foolishly optimistic of a Pollyanna, but I chose to believe that tomorrow will be better. Maybe that's because I realize I cannot control it. It took me a really long time to get to this point.
However, that's not to say I haven't gotten discouraged, that I relish having to plunk down the funds for unexpected expenses or that I don't get nervous when I see our emergency fund get smaller. I just understand that outside of prayer and a little preparation there is precious little I can do about any of this.
1. Remember these things happen to everyone
I know that this doesn't always seem comforting, but there is a lot of truth in this, life happens to everyone.
I shared our plumbing situation on Facebook and it was actually nice to hear that other people I know had gone through something similar. Sometimes it helps to share your story or let people know what's going on just so you can be reminded that it's happened to other people. You can also ask how they dealt with it.
Just don't let it turn into a one up of who has it worse. Which, let's be honest, feels like the reason the internet was invented... to complain.
If you've found yourself in this same position, facing one thing after another after another you're not alone in your struggles.
2. Look for the victory
I understand that none of these things that have happened over the last six months make me a victim, that I have no reason to feel sorry for myself and that I just have to get back up and keep going. I have to choose to be victorious.
I could take an Eeyore approach to life, keep my head down and moan about why things always happen to me. Or I can choose to find victory in the moment.
Sometimes the victory is finding a cheaper and less invasive way to handle a problem. And sometimes the victory is in facing the problem, but doing so with a smile and a good attitude. I know that last part is hard. As someone whose attitude ranges pleasant to (as my husband puts it) sweet as a rabid pitbull, in the course of an hour... believe me, I know it's hard.
3. Realize there is always a reason to be thankful
I understand that in light of other people's problems mine are but a flicker.
When Isaac had to have that heart test I was terrified, honestly by the time the bill came I was grateful for the whole things to be over with.
I couldn't help but reflect upon and pray for all those families for whom daily health issues are an ongoing reality.
I know so many families who are fighting for their kids' health every day.
4. Remember to find joy
Life waxes and wanes through good and bad. There are seasons of great joy when babies are born and first steps are taken.
And during those seasons there can also be great turmoil as we face the death of a loved one or a job loss or a catastrophic illness or disaster.
That's why it's so important to find and cling to those moments of joy. Whether it is something huge like those first steps a baby takes, or something small like having a cup of coffee in the quiet of your home, look for a reason to be joyful in the midst of a chaotic time.
5. Stress can make it way worse
When you've gone into financial survival mode or you're dealing with a lot of life things at one time it can be really stressful. And stress can lead to desperation and that can lead to bad financial decisions. It's a crazy cycle! That's why it's imperative that you find a way to relieve stress.
Maybe it's painting or writing or taking a long walk. Maybe it's finding someone to talk things over with.
6. This doesn't define you
Let's be real for a second. In a perfect world, bad things wouldn't happen at all. But when they did we would all have endless funds to pay for them, or emergency funds fully funded. But many people don't.
While I am not advocating borrowing money to pay for emergencies, I understand it's a reality. I understand how desperation works. If that's been you and you're wracked with guilt, just let that go.
Correct your course, make a new plan and start over. Our lives are not defined by our financial decisions, good or bad. We are more than that. SO don't let that be the thing that keeps you from moving forward.
What about you? What would you add to this list?