07 April 2009

Gratituesday: Lessons Learned

So, I hear the economy isn't looking so hot these days. This isn't news in Michigan ... at all. We've been enjoying the lovely recession-esque times for quite awhile. Years, I think. Tight financial times mean two things: belt-tightening and re-evaluation of priorities (hopefully) and personal financial crisis (hopefully not). You could likely ask just about any random person the street about someone they know and their financial meltdowns and get story after story about foreclosures, job losses, judgements, homelessness, hunger, and the like. None of that am I grateful for.

Some people very close to me, whom I will not indicate my relationship to as there are people who know the real life me who are likely reading, are having a rough go of it. They're overextended in credit. They have a vehicle with financing they cannot afford. They recently suffered a temporary job set back dropping their income to one instead of a much more comfortable two. They are spending more than they can really afford to, and are now scrambling to switch things up to make ends meet in the short term. In an economy where this same scenario is being played out nationwide, they are not unique or alone. That makes my heart sad.

We, Be and I, could just as easily been in the exact same place. We have one income (half an income?). We have a very tight financial situation ... and credit card debt ... and more month than money sometimes. The thing that keeps us from that same desperate, terrible feeling crisis mode is that we simply recognized the need to change earlier ... in a better economy ... when our backs weren't as tightly to the wall. We were lucky enough to get an eye opening lesson in budgeting, stewardship, the evils of credit debt, and necessary frugality before we had to crash course through it to save our skins. We were close ... precariously close ... but we came out alright. For that, I am grateful.

We didn't get here alone. We aren't that cool. We didn't even have the wherewithal or foresight or self-awareness to know we needed change until the last second, and we surely didn't think up the way we do things these days ... the methods that saved us from absolute financial ruin. For those involved in that process, who pulled us away from the edge, who made it possible that we can have the skills necessary to ride out a recession (hopefully), I am grateful.

For Dave Ramsey's straight talk about zero based budgeting and the slavery that is credit card debt, I am grateful.

For baby steps and an emergency fund (albeit small) that has saved us when Be needed prescriptions, the propane man came unexpectedly to refill the tank, my car tried to fall apart, and the security of knowing that any of them could happen again without me having a panicked hissy fit, I am grateful.

For the ladies of the budget board I used to co-host that taught me everything I know about stretching budgets, dealing with creditors, the legality of some financial institution practices, the necessity of miscellaneous categories, and the envelope system, I am grateful.

For my collected group of online friends, the source of my couponing initiation, the support system that applauds you for saving $4 extra this month and cares about how much change you pulled out of your couch, I am grateful.

For sweet personal finance bloggers who regularly teach me via my Google Reader about retirement and investing and all kinds of assorted frugal hacks, I am grateful.

For the crisis that led us to rethink the way we did things, the near rock bottom that we had to hit to get there, and yes, even the tears involved, I am grateful, for I know now that the hard part is over quickly and the rest ... when you know how to manage it ... is smooth sailing.



For more grateful goodness, check out the Heavenly Homemaker!

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