Inevitably, you’re going to screw up. You’re going to make a mistake and it’s gonna cost you. If you’re lucky, it’s only going to cost you a few dollars or a bit of bruised pride. If you’re not so lucky, it could cost you much more than that.
Let me tell you a little secret. We’ve all been there. In all likelihood, we’ll all be there again. But, some of us will get back up, dust ourselves off, and get back to doing what it was we were doing in the first place. The rest will sit on the ground where they landed, beaten and broken, and never get back up. They’ve given up. The world got the best of them, and they have lost the will to try again.
Getting back up isn’t the hard part. Gathering the will to get back up is.
None of us who have fallen and gotten back up have any greater aptitude for it than anyone else. Sure, we may be better at some things than other people, but when we fail, we are all the same. Here’s a little bit more of a secret. Some of us are better prepared for the fall. We’ve done what we can to soften the blow, not because it’s inevitable, but because it could happen. Think of it this way; you don’t buy health insurance because your sick, (well most don’t) you buy it in case you get sick. You don’t wear a helmet while bicycling because you know you’re going to fall, you wear it in case you do fall. Sometimes situations are out of our control. We certainly don’t choose to get sick. And we don’t choose to fall off of our bikes on to the hard concrete below. But, sometimes it happens. And the better prepared you are for it, the easier it is to get back up and get going.
Many years ago (something like 7), I drove a old pickup (older than I am). One particularly cold day, then engine refused to start. It refused to start the next day despite having a charger on it and attempts to pull start it. I couldn’t go without a car, so what was I to do? I had no savings, and no means of coming up with any extra money. I had fallen. In order to get myself up and out of the hole I had dug, I was forced to take on a massive (for me at the time) car loan on a used car. The bank wouldn’t finance much without a down payment, so I took what I could get. It was a terribly low spot for me, financially. I went from having no car payment at all, to having a car payment of a little under $200 a month. I could afford it, but just barely. If anything had happened to my income or if an emergency of some sort had arisen, I would have fallen that much farther (and harder). To be honest, I didn’t learn all that much from that particular episode. But, I did get back up and back on the road.
A week or so ago, my car sprung an oil leak. The repair wasn’t horribly expensive (only about $150), but enough that it could have been very damaging if I had been in the same situation as I was before. But, I’m not. I’m prepared. I have a small emergency fund that can easily cover an expense of that magnitude. The fall wasn’t nearly as bad. It wasn’t as bad of a situation as it was before, either. But, because I had prepared, the fall was very short and I was able to recover quickly. In fact, it was less of a fall than it was just a little bump.
Preparing for an emergency isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you are expecting to have an emergency any more than having health insurance means you’re expecting to get sick, or wearing a bike helmet means you’re expecting to fall. But it cushions you against the fall. Getting sick is less stressful if you have insurance that you know will pick up part of the bill. You’ll have less road rash if you’re wearing a helmet. And, if you have an emergency fund, more falls will become bumps.
Do yourself the favor. Prepare now, so that when you do fall, you’ve got some cushioning to land on.
I started this blog to share what I know and what I was learning about personal finance. Along the way I’ve met and found many blogging friends. Please feel free to connect with me on the Beating Broke accounts: Twitter and Facebook.