Monday, May 17, 2010

From Panic to Peace

A couple of things have happened to me recently that demonstrate the beauty of financial freedom. If you haven't yet read about my crazy love of Dave Ramsey's method of money management, read about it here.

Or here.

Or here.

Or here.

Maybe here.

Or, read this post.

Bored yet?

C'mon, this stuff is goooooood!

The first illustration is about Titus's glasses. Remember, the ones I broke. Well, as soon as that piece snapped off I almost panicked. Before 2 seconds had passed I quickly added up in my head the minimum cost of an eye exam and new glasses. A minimum of two Uncle Ben's... probably more.

My mind immediately shot to default mode. I worriedly thought to myself, "Can I fix it? Can I find a way to get him new glasses without updating his prescription (though it'd been 1.5 years and he really did need a new one)? Can they just fix that piece? Are there any other options I haven't thought of yet? Can I put this off? Can I sell something?..."

Then suddenly I remembered. I don't need to do any of those things. I have an emergency savings fund. Emergency savings funds are designed for things like this. (Panic begins to subside). Can you hear it? That's the beautiful sound of financial peace!

Then last night our crossover (part car, part mini-van, part wagon... it's hard to know what to call that thing) started to make a funny noise. This morning there was a small fluid leak. This evening there was a fluid gush. When I say gush, I mean HUGE gush. The liquid was everywhere underneath my whole vehicle. Yikes! It only has 44K miles on it... I'm not ready to do a major repair yet. Again, my default instinct is to panic. Luckily the nice guys at Jiffy Lube encouraged me to come in even though it meant them keeping the store open past it's regular hours for me. Since we'd just gotten our oil changed I was hoping they'd just forgotten to do something that they could easily (and without cost) fix.

I pulled into one of those "please don't let me drive my car into that hole and look like an idiot that can't drive' bays."

"I've got a steady red-fluid leak down here," calls the guy from down-under.

The guy up under the hood with the flashlight says, "It's everywhere. Whatever it is is all over everything."

And, before too long I heard words like transmission and power stearing pump. I'm not a mechanic, but I know those words. Those are expensive words.

Then the guy upstairs says, "The power steering pump is nearly impossible to get to in this thing." I know those are also expensive words. That means lots of labor. Suddenly these expensive words are turning into potentially really expensive words.

Those are the kinds of words that used to paralyze me. For so many years we lived with so little margin in our budget that it would take us eons to save enough for a major car repair. Or, more specifically, any time we'd managed to save anything note-worthy a car repair or medical expense wiped out any excess we had. It happened like clockwork. Seriously. Once the bank account went above a specific amount we could almost start counting down the days until the next catastrophe.

Back to today. The man at Jiffy Lube couldn't tell me how much the repair might cost. He said it might still be covered under warranty depending on the date the car was manufactured. It's a 2005 and has a 5 year warranty on these types of things as far as he could tell from the paper work in my glove compartment. So, as of tonight I still have no idea how many Uncle Ben's I might have to depart with on this one. Maybe none, maybe lots?

Either way, I don't have to panic. I am debt free and I have money in the bank for situations like these. Don't get me wrong, we are by no means ridiculously wealthy, nor do we have it all figured out. And a major car repair will still sting, but it won't paralyze us. We are an average family, on an average income, learning how to do as best we can with what God's trusted us with. It's times like these that I'm so grateful that we started working the baby steps to financial peace. I'm truly, truly reaping the benefits of our decision to follow the plan!

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