5 Rules for Lifting Your Family Out of Economic Hardship
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
So here's the plan. I've come up with 5 Rules that I'm going to follow over the next 13 Weeks.
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."