When Walking the Monetary Tightrope, Who Needs a Stinkin' Safety Net?


Life is like a three-ring circus.

Well, at least mine is. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just part of living a full life. This week, in the center ring we had a new grandson born. All eyes were fixed upon his beautiful little face. We marveled at the goodness of God. Like any grandmother would do, I traveled across a couple states just to kiss his cheek and give him my personal welcome. The front ring filled with anticipation and excitement as the new school year began for our last child at home. She’s inching closer to the high school finish line. Then there’s the ring in the back, behind us, where the light is dim and hidden from everyone’s view — it stood empty with only shadows of a 19th birthday party that would have been.


Over it all we walk the tightrope of a precarious financial state. We are attempting to balance health needs, an ever-tightening budget, and current obligations, all without dropping off that red line into the abyss of default.

I stumbled a little this week, but I didn’t fall. What I did do is learn a valuable lesson and make a firm new resolution. There will be no safety nets. A “safety net” is a false sense of security.

Allow me to explain.


As I mentioned in a previous post, due to an extended health crisis, we needed to cut down expenses. I started by going over policies and plans, trimming fat by counting minutes and pennies. Getting rid of luxuries like cable and “unlimited” this-and-that. Also, by going over and stopping all my automatic deductions for things like OnStar and various memberships, I managed to cut back just a bit further.

However, I missed one.

In an account I seldom use other than for a few specific payments, apparently I overlooked a small, yet significant automatic withdrawal. Being out of state and unable to correct it quickly proved costly. When I arrived home I went to the bank to rectify the situation. During the course of the conversation, the banker offered me their bank card. As a sort of “safety net,” he suggested.


Tempting. But no.

The more I thought about it, the more foolish it sounded. After draining almost all of our assets with an extended illness, and now trying to adjust to a fixed income,  this so-called safety net, were we to fall into it, would swallow us like quick sand.

So let’s look at the logic here. If I ran short this month and borrowed money to live on, then next month I would still have the same amount, only now I would owe more money. Now I’m further behind — and sinking fast.

Several well-meaning friends and family members have suggested we apply for food stamps and other various state and federal offerings. Here’s the problem with that. Aside from my pride and my overall aversion to it, there is also the comfort factor. Again, it’s that false sense of security of a safety net.

There is something to be said for the fear of failure. At present, we can pay our bills and buy our own groceries. Yes, it’s tight. Would extra help? Absolutely. But why hinder the drive to succeed?

When you are on a high wire without a net, there is no room for failure. You must succeed or else.

I’ll pass on the safety nets. I’d rather make fear of failing my drive to make it.


Would you sign up for government handouts just because you would qualify?


Photo credits Shutterstock,  Anneka,  Chantal de Bruijne



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