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5 Rules for Lifting Your Family Out of Economic Hardship

13 Weeks to Family Financial Freedom, Week 1.

by
Rhonda Robinson

Bio

June 29, 2013 - 7:00 am

knight

There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news? Once again, our life and livelihood have taken a mortal blow.

The good news? We’ve traveled this road before. What once devastated me, I now consider a gauntlet at my feet.

I’ll explain, but first you need a bit of backstory: We didn’t realize my husband Mike had blood clotting issues until about eight years ago when he suffered a massive pulmonary embolism. He dismissed his difficulty breathing as nothing more than a chest cold.

His plan: Work the night shift, rest over the weekend. If, by Monday, he didn’t feel better he would see a doctor. After watching him struggle to catch his breath walking from one room to the other, I changed the plan.

We went to the emergency room.

Mike never returned to law enforcement. His doctor could not, in clear conscience he said, release him back to active duty on blood thinners. It took two long years without an income before he could change careers and enter the private sector as an investigator. The fear of poverty continuously haunted me.

My handsome knight’s work ethic and character always propelled him, and his new field of insurance fraud investigation was no exception. He could still fight evil, but at least now he didn’t have to wear a bulletproof vest to do it. We enjoyed a new home and began to rebuild our lives — that is, until last September.

Once again, I found myself arguing with him over whether or not he would go to the hospital. This time it would change our lives forever. A massive clot had formed under his heart, then extended down into both ankles. He has not worked since. Currently his full-time job is recovery, at which he is doing quite well.

Thanks to the company he worked for, we have excellent medical insurance that has kept us from financial ruin. We also have private, long-term disability insurance which has kept us out of the welfare line. For this, I am truly grateful.

Which brings us to today. Our income is down 40% and temporary. However, as I said earlier, we’ve been here before. The terrain is hard, but this time, there is no fear — just our faith and a plan.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

 – Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families 

I’m choosing to create a 13 week “space” to secure our growth and my family’s financial freedom. I will be joining Charlie Martin, Sarah Hoyt, and David Swindle.

So here’s the plan. I’ve come up with 5 Rules that I’m going to follow over the next 13 Weeks.

My Seinfeld calendar -- Robinson style. No big red Xs on an ugly calendar for this girl.

My Seinfeld calendar — Robinson style. No big red Xs on an ugly calendar for this girl.

1. Track Progress on a Physical Calendar Every Day. 

Each day I will take steps forward in one or more areas listed below. Then I will track my consistency using my own version of a Seinfeld calendar, and blog my progress on Saturdays.

 

2. Write a New Budget.  

In Covey’s first book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he points out that the number-one habit of highly effective people is that they “happen” to things: things don’t “happen” to them. So, I will create a new budget and adhere to it faithfully.

 

3. Assess Our Lifestyle.

It’s time to take inventory of our own values; we must ask ourselves some hard questions. Does our current lifestyle reflect our values? Is our current lifestyle sustainable? Is it time to downsize our home? Do we retire or shift gears and change directions?

 

4. Cut Our Living Expenses by 40%.

Nothing is off the table. Electric bills, cable, Internet, phone, and insurance must be scrutinized and cut to the bare essentials.

 

5. Find Ways to Bring Up Our Income by at Least 40% and Beyond.

At the end of the 13 weeks, I want to have a plan in place, so that for the following 13 weeks we can implement it to raise our income both short and long term.

Perhaps most importantly, I’m placing my trust in scripture: Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Rhonda Robinson writes on the social, political and parenting issues currently shaping the American family. She lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Middle Tennessee. www.amotherslife.me Follow on twitter @amotherslife

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Top Rated Comments   
Prayers have been offered. I would point out that your husbands’ most potent health tool is you. Take care of you as well. I like your plan and I look forward to learning more.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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You have some good tips. One easy way I have found to put yourself in a better financial situation is to Sell Gold [http://www.apmex.com/selltous] to a place like APMEX. They offer fair prices for your gold and have easy to follow instructions. It makes it easy to earn some cash and help get into a better place financially.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very interesting & very timely for me. My husband is retiring from the military in less than a year & I have been a stay at home mom for 15 years. I am going for retraining & finishing my degree but it will take time. Also, our daughter is about to start her senior year of high school. I look forward to reading more
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I reassess our budget and expenditures at least once a year, even though in the 10 years (and 4 kids in that time) we've been married, my husband's salary has only gone up thus far. TV is an easy thing for people to say they'll cut, but I have not done it as of now. The reason is: network tv is junk. It's junky trashy reality shows and comedies that rely on crass humor. But with cable (or satellite) my kids and I can watch animal planet and The History Channel and Nat Geo. My oldest 2 and I adore watching Life Below Zero, and the fact that they'd rather learn about other ways of life than watch some bimbo worry about dates means the world to me. So I keep cable. I switch insurance providers and electric companies just about yearly, because that's the only way to lower those bills that I've found. We switch cable providers just about as often. I coupon. I haven't bought a full price new item of clothing, for anyone, in a decade. I won't spend more than $5 on any one clothing item for any of us. We have short and long term disability insurance because right now I don't work and if he got hurt, we'd be lost without it. We both have life insurance for the same reason. We have one vehicle and we buy used. I keep my AC on 80 in the summer (perfectly comfortable with fans) and my heat on 60 in the winter (that's why man created sweaters). And all of these things have enabled me to stay home birthing and raising our 4 kids while my husband is our sole source of income, and is now allowing me to work part-time on a degree with no student loans. Frugal is fun.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good plan but I'd still get rid of the tv. You may not consciously realize it but programs like the Animal planet, Nat Geo and the History channel are still indoctrinating you with a liberal schpeel. Even Disney isn't safe and hasn't been for years. Commercials and public service announcements are also politically driven. It's 24/7 bombardment.

I got fed up with all the junk and got rid of tv last year - and I am a self confessed tv junkie. I've had a tv in my room since before I was in school. I also went from 6 tvs to 2. I don't miss it. You can get a roku box and get netflix and then you can choose what you want to expose your children to.

Knowing you (from your post) your children no doubt actually read! Turn the tv off and introduce them to new music and have them read with the music in the background.

I know you didn't ask for my two cents but I've really become like an ex-smoker when it comes to tv.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not to nitpick, but I think that quote is actually from Victor Frankl.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apparently you are correct, and it comes from Man's Search for Meaning. Thank you. Now I have to have that book. I appreciate a good nitpicker-- thanks again.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm actually a professional Financial Advisor/Counselor. 40% seems arbitrary to me. You need to analyze all your income (both actual and potential) as well as your expenses and needs. 40% may be too much or too little depending on your circumstances. Also, cutting insurance in order to save money can be the worst mistake of your life. Rich people can afford to be without insurance, but poor people need insurance more than anyone because they have no assets that they can liquidate in an emergency.

I would highly recommend that you talk to a professional counselor. Most are free, or at least offer free initial consultations. If you're looking for general help, check out some of the books by Dave Ramsey.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
God-speed !
What you have added in your answer to a comment here below is decisive: do not listen to the whispers of fear. It only makes everything more difficult (and/or impossible).
I have seen terrible tragedies in my personal life, and fear tries to become a continuous presence, it must be actively dislodged.

We recently moved to a much smaller home...and we found ourselves very happy about that: we didn't realize how much work and money were going into one million things every day and every week. And it is cozy.

My prayers with you and your husband.





40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charles Dickens wrote about this in David Copperfield many years ago, when his character Mr. Mccabre spoke of income 20 pounds expenditures of 20 pounds 6 pence, result is misery, income of 20 pounds expenditure of 19 pounds 6 pence, result is happiness.

Was true then, is true now, that if you live within one's budget, and can save, one is far better off. the question is what does a person want to cut, before they might find that they get everything cut because of poor planning.


Not to be taken in context of major economic blow, or health issues, but as the caveat, some people made options that included disability, privately held, when they first got into the work force and the policies were cheap insurance.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cable or satellite TV is definitely not essential for anyone, and stopping it will not only save money but help preserve sanity. And it is closely related to the issue of "does our current lifestyle reflect our values."

Lots of conservative people complain about the trash on TV, but they keep shelling out big money to cable and satellite companies every month, thereby supporting the trash.

I've done without TV for over a year, and I'm doing just fine and enjoy life a lot. Most TV programming is poison anyway. There are so many fun things, indoors and outdoors, that people can do without TV.

I was laid off for over a year, and when I wasn't looking for a job I found that there were lots of free or cheap ways to find entertainment--reading, walking, participating in sports, etc.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Only a year? Hmmm. 3 decades or so for me. Maybe that's why I'm so out of step with most people in this country.

That's a good thing.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some of us are slow learners........;^D
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Plus, when I was growing up tv was free. I swear liberals were trying to find a way to charge us for it like they do in the UK for decades. Using the excuse of being able to use the waves for emergencies so everybody was switched to cable whether they liked it or not was what they'd been waiting for.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I always enjoy reading articles about how to save and live on a budget because I find I'm already doing the things the article suggests and then some.

It becomes second nature, really, to judge every expenditure for its true value, and it highlights my values in such a way that I have a true understanding of who I am at my core. There is nowhere to hide.

Best wishes to you; I look forward to reading more!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Prayers have been offered. I would point out that your husbands’ most potent health tool is you. Take care of you as well. I like your plan and I look forward to learning more.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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