Storytelling is what first drew me to blogs. The love of reading other people’s stories and the ability and freedom to share my own stories and adventures with others. These stories are what continue to draw me to blogs. All of the stories – the funny stories, the heartwarming and heartbreaking. The trips, tips and reviews. The exhilarating adventures and the slow,simple but beautiful stories about the everyday.
Today I want to share a little story with you. Not a story of travel or adventures but a story about finances. Not the usual story you would find on my blog.
This is a personal story about our finances. I am not a financial expert, far from it. I do not even have a love for maths. However I do feel I have an important story which may help others.
Last year in August I was busy parenting two children, working full time and dreaming of having a regular babysitter to enjoy more time with my husband. Nothing unremarkable or different from many other friends or women who may read this blog. And this is the exactly the motivation behind sharing this story. We are a usual family. Two adults happily married, 2 children one at school and one at Preschool. We have two cars and we even have the Golden Retriever to complete the white picket picture.
I awoke one Saturday with excructiating back pain. I still have no idea what happened. Perhaps I carried groceries the wrong way, perhaps I reached or bent over for something. In short I found myself requiring surgery for a personal injury. No workers compensation claim. No motor vehicle accident insurance claim.
As frustrating as having to deal with surgery was, I was confident I would be back on my feet and rehabilitate quickly. My husband and I both had full time jobs. We also had minimal debt and we had savings. With our love for travel and looking forward to hubby completing post-graduate studies we had a healthy saving bundle.
I had little idea how quickly financial stresses can chase you down. How quickly comfortable can shift to feeling anything but.
We did a budget and quickly realised with one income how difficult making rent, car repayments, utilities, childcare and groceries as a minimum was going to be. What looked like a hefty savings pile started to dry up, and it dried up quickly. I can say I had never sat down and really thought about just how quickly things could move from go to woah if we lost an income. I had certainly read stories of families who lived paycheck to paycheck and became homeless but that was nothing like our situation or yours – was it?
As savings dwindled due to surgical expenses, doctors appointments, physio, hydrotherapy expenses daily life continued. Being employed I was faced with contacting Centrelink to enquire about Sickness Benefits. After waiting for 3 months for an answer we found out that we didn’t qualify. Apparently we earnt too much money.
I can hardly begin to explain the feeling of financial pressure, particularly if you have never experienced it before. It is like a slowly squeezing full body vice. It is a heavy granite rock that sits on the sternum in your chest.
We contacted the bank and got our car repayments suspended. I double checked all our policies and reviewed them where possible for better deals.
Friends and family who were able to were generous. It was humbling and we were appreciative. Our friends encouraged us to contact our Super. “Surely you can draw some of that down early?”. Yes we could have, if we had qualified for Centrelink. Without Centrelink payments we didn’t qualify to draw down any of our super.
Just about this time our fridge decided to die. Did the Universe have any cards left to deal us!
Things continued to get financially tighter and tighter and that feeling is the one that motivates me to share my story with you. We were fortunate that our son’s childcare suspended charging us fees while I was without pay for a total of 5 months. Our second car is being sold. We considered having to possibly move house.
The whole experience was an eye opener. Both my husband and I are full time employed professionals. We earn good money and had savings. Yet we found ourselves in a situation which caused us immense stress. I don’t want anyone else to go through this situation.
I am a good saver. I am able to choose a goal and work towards it. My goals have always been related to travel and holiday adventures. You may be the same.
If this is you I would like to encourage you to do the following:
- Work out how much money you need to bring into your house to survive living as you are today?
- Then calculate how much you need to bring into to your home before drastic measures are taken such as moving house, selling cars.
- Look at your savings. If you had to stop work tomorrow how long would your savings sustain you for?
Right around the time of our surgery my husband picked up the book The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.
I can honestly say that this book has revolutionised the way we think about money. You see so many people don’t think about it. We had our payments set up to be auto debited and they just happened and we covered expenses and things were good. Until they weren’t.
This is not a sponsored post. I just honestly believe that this book is one that everyone should read. Scott and his wife lost everything when Victorian bushfires swept through and burnt everything he owned to the ground. He has rebuilt himself personally.
He has such clear advice about how to organise and divide up money and he talks about his concept of Mojo. Scott advises people to save 3 months worth of their salary and put it away into a Mojo account not to be touched in case you wake up with a back injury, or a child gets sick and you can’t work. 3 months may seem steep and he encourages people to start with $2000 but from experience even 3 months can be burnt through fairly quickly.
We have adopted his strategies and we feel more in control of our funds than ever before. As my back continues to give me problems this book helps us build financial security.
If you are someone who is saving for your next adventure I would suggest a pause to create not just travel mojo but financial mojo because just like travel adventures, we never know what life has around the corner for us.