I’ve always had a personal obsession for security: In my relationships, my financial life & my day-to-day life. I’d also felt (for the most part) fairly confident my life was “under control”. I had a home, career & money in the bank; isn’t that the American dream?
It was–until I got sick, had eight hospital admission and spent three months off work. For a time, I used credit cards to stay afloat. My medication co-pays were $1,000 a month so it didn’t take long to max out my resources. About 18 months later I filed bankruptcy. Luckily, I was able to keep my home because I had made it a priority to keep the mortgage paid and my old, raggedy car was paid for. Each person has to decide how he/she feels about the ethical aspect of bankruptcy, but for me–I felt a thousand pounds lighter and had hope for the first time in over a year.
I was able to learn many, MANY things during those two years. The greatest lesson was seeing the holes in my previous plan. Here are some of the most glaring ones:
*I had almost no savings.
When I scraped together all of my resources, I had about $750 cash on-hand. NOT cool. I’ve since become a fan of Dave Ramsey and his no-nonsense approach to finances and life. Scrape together an emergency fund of $1,000–no matter what you’ve gotta do. Cancel the cable, get rid of the house phone, pick up cans/bottles, roll change, get rid of add-ons/extras, downgrade vehicles. Sell something; quit smoking (yes, I know it sucks). Get an emergency fund going–you can’t afford NOT TO.
*I had too many credit cards.
Cut them up. Get rid of them. Pay them off. Keep one for emergencies, if you must. ONLY use it for emergencies….
Talk to human resources & find out what’s available and know when it kicks in. If you miss out on benefits because you don’t know they exist, they are not obligated to pay retro-actively.
*I carried too much frivolous debt & bought lots of shit I didn’t love, want or need.
I’m not gonna preach about this one. Just make sure a purchase will serve a real, valued purpose in your life before you sink resources into it. 90% of what I have is used & I’m very pleased with my home.
*I was lacking in the education necessary to advance outside of my present career role.
In some cases grants are available, employers will help with costs, or vocational rehab. will subsidize continuing education. If not, consider student loans. For me, it’s an investment–not a debt. Had I not sought on-going education, I would be unable to work. For me it was a no-brainer.
Since having these revelations & recovering enough to work part-time, I’ve set about managing all of them I can. Finally, I feel like I’m a LITTLE more in control of my destiny again…. Just a little though.
Health challenges, like other unexpected life events, won’t be as overwhelming if you’ve got a little pre-planning under your belt. I credit my sudden reversal in health with teaching me to create my future. It can be done-trust me…