Unlike Bill Gates of Microsoft or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, most people don’t have an endless pile of cash. We can dream all we want, but it’s probably not going to happen for us. I know because I have been playing the lottery for years trying to get my own endless supply and I can’t even get four numbers, which pays out a lousy $2.
I have come to the conclusion that being the average person, which most of us are, means you have to carefully watch your money or else it will run out.
All throughout my life, I was labeled a “cheapskate” because I wouldn’t spend a penny unless it was absolutely necessary. Even when it was necessary, I still doubled checked the reason why I had to spend the money. I used that stingy approach because I learned early in life that money is hard to obtain and you can’t assume that you’re always going to have it.
Unfortunately, most people take having money for granted. When they were younger, they never had to worry because their parents took care of all the bills. Now that they are adults, they’ve become accustomed to a steady flow of income from a job or another source.
But, what would you do if that was taken away? It’s a frightening thought and I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a terrible position to be in for you and your family. During this period, you have to know how to stretch your money as far as you can.
Unfortunately, a lot of people won’t know how to handle this difficult situation if it arises. So, I suggest that instead of letting this situation sneak up on you, prepare yourself now by doing a “money conservation drill” twice a year. During this drill, simulate a scenario in which you have to survive without income for two months. I believe that this is enough time to test your resiliency and preparedness for an unexpected setback.
To start the drill immediately cut ALL unnecessary spending. This means stop giving allowances to your children, donations to charity, and lending money to people. Also, no more calls to the Chinese restaurant for their combination special or trips to Costco to get the foot-long franks and the yogurt sundaes for under $3. In other words, your junk food runs are out. I know that this is painful, especially foregoing the $1.50 foot-long franks, but you have to put these luxuries on hold until your finances improve.
In regards to your bills, you should already have a priority payment plan in place. You need to follow that script closely by paying everyone only what is due. For example, pay your mortgage or rent first, the car note second, the utility bill third, your cell phone fourth and you can fill in the rest. For credit card bills, pay the minimum amount due when possible so that if an emergency comes up, you still have some money to take care of it.
After completing this exercise, if you have any funds left over, put 50% in the bank and put the other 50% into a safe place that only you know about. This will serve you well in the event that you need cash on the spot in the future.
Successfully going through this “money conservation drill” will give you a clue on what you may have to endure if you run into financial hardships. Conducting this drill will be difficult for you to do, and I’m not going to lie that it won’t, but it’s something that I know you can handle.
In closing, I have discovered that the thing that hurts us the most is not knowing what to do when we are hit with an unexpected setback. In coming from a large family, we had all sorts of money difficulties growing up, which would take too much time to discuss at this point. Although it was a painful experience, it taught me a valuable lesson on survival. These tough experiences also make you stronger and you will need that strength later on down the road if another obstacle emerges. Therefore, in my opinion, the best way to stay prepared for these difficult situations is to periodically conduct these “money conservation drills”. These drills have worked for me and I’m sure that they can do the same for you.
If you have any comments free feel to send them to me below.