Live Like There's No Tomorrow
My husband had a great job. He was receiving a nice steady income at a higher rate of pay than what we were used to living on. He drove an all-expenses paid company car, and all work-related supplies were paid for in his home office. We had the privilege of going to two sales conferences earlier in the year to nice locations with drinks, dinners, and many social outings. Despite all the success, I somehow had an uneasy feeling it wouldn’t last. It didn’t.
Two weeks after he had gotten a glowing performance review and his manager sent care packages for all of our kids, he was told over the phone at a client meeting that he needed to return the rental car by 5:00 and apply for unemployment. His position had been eliminated due to budget cuts and a reorganization. It was nothing personal.
Six months pregnant with three more children at home, I could have panicked. I instead said a prayer of thanks that I had the foresight to start saving aggressively two months before he was let go. I had a mistrust of the company, and knew that we would never survive if we believed that he had full financial security in any job. We took 50% of our earnings and stuck it in a savings account. That small nest egg, along with the very small unemployment earnings and a few side jobs here and there, lasted us through a 10-month financial drought we had never seen before.
I realize that most people can’t put away 10% very easily, not to mention 50%. But we had just paid off all of our credit cards from a debt consolidation that had taken 8 years to complete. We originally wanted to celebrate by getting some new appliances and a fresh coat of paint in the living room. I felt uneasy by our financial success, however, and wanted to be sure we were set in case he were to ever lose his job. We bought a refrigerator and agreed that I could wash the dishes by hand for another year. We took the money we were putting toward the debt consolidation program in the previous months, and put it directly into savings. That was the best decision we ever made.
Have you just finished paying off a large loan? Do you suddenly find yourself with an additional $100-$500 a month? Stop what you are doing right now and live like you won’t have your job tomorrow. Resist the temptation to celebrate. Put it in savings. Plan ahead. Hopefully you won’t need it right away. But if you do, you will be thankful for your foresight, and can make it through the next dry spell. And after you have accumulated the recommend 3-6 months of expenses in your account, you can consider upgrading your vehicle or building that deck. Whatever you choose to do, you can do it with the peace of mind that comes from being prepared.