Surviving a Financial Crisis can be tough. This past month has been a difficult one. We found out that we had two weeks until my husband’s (already meager) side job was going away and the work that we have scheduled for our recording studio seemed to be in a constant delay, thus delaying any future payment. You see, the self employed rely on irregular income flows. That means that when the harvest is great, we have to store our income for the lean times. This little side job was supposed to be the meat, and all the extras the gravy, but we suddenly found ourselves scrambling for what to do next.
Reaching the end of our ‘stored’ income, we scraped the bottom of the barrel as it is. I’m talking, rolling quarters for groceries kinda tight! We found ourselves in a moment of despair, so what did I do?
I cried….. sat in my room and cried.
It happened like this: One day, while my country boys played in the creek across the street, my youngest pushed the oldest into the water wearing his one and only pair of shoes that fit him. Completely soaked and ruined – at least I thought at the time. It had escaped me in that moment that the shoes could be saved with a wash- however… at that moment
It was THE proverbial back breaking straw.
Now some of you know that I tend to breed little giants. Okay, not really, but almost. My eleven year old was just measured at 5 foot 7.
five. foot. seven.
eleven. years. old.
And dressing him has been quite the chore. Feeding his ever growing body is also a chore. He is in between all sizes and with every sneeze, I swear he’s grown even more.
So back to my story: I managed through the ups/downs/what ifs of our recent financial dilemma. I really truly thought I placed my trust in the “Thy Will Be Done” — until the great shoe debacle. Usually a busy bee and a habitual planner, I noticed that we were about to hit the rock and our ship could sink. I started trying my hardest to bail out the water…only there was no water there.
Focusing so much on the what if, I had worked myself into a frenzy and an unstable emotional state. I couldn’t see the logic in those simple pair of (washable) shoes.
Silently walking inside, I laid in bed and cried, too upset to come out for the rest of the night. I fell into despair – over shoes. My mental diatribe was relentless. How was I going to afford to clothe my children? We already count every penny living on the less than median salary and our tax payment was due. The car insurance bill just arrived, two of our tires needed patching, and the vacuum cleaner broke. I was done. In my distress, I called to the Lord.
Did He wash me with peace?
Did I harness the patience that’s already been given to me in abundance?
All I received was one clear word, over and over again.
Wait? What do you mean wait? Hello – we are on fire now and I have to wait? When you are in the middle of the storm and see the tornado coming, instinct tells you to run to safety, not stand there and wait.
I’m telling you – that word was everywhere. The days following, every phone conversation with my friends – it was there. Talking to my Mom, it was there. Everywhere I looked, everyone I spoke to, there was that word, like a blinking billboard with a giant arrow.
I didn’t like it. It goes against everything I am; planner, doer, detailer, multi-tasker.
Jen doesn’t wait, Jen..works.
Bottom line, I didn’t trust. Didn’t trust myself to remedy our circumstance, didn’t trust my husband’s ability to find more work, and ultimately didn’t trust God to get us through this.
Then it happened.
Stinging shame. How could I lack trust with such a small thing while I have friends facing loss of loved ones, battling cancer, infertility, abuse and unfathomable things that I’m not fighting? And yet I didn’t trust. They champion their battles and I wilt and cry…over shoes.
How many times have I been in a hard place like this and I fail to trust? How could I be so beaten down for this small thing while others face much harder battles? Then it dawned on me — I can, because this is the path I’m supposed to walk right now.
Yes, others are hurting, and yes, comparatively, their problems may be more difficult than yours, but please hear this.
It doesn’t make your pain any less real.
Your struggle is real for you at this moment, and it is purposeful in whatever the outcome will be. Just because it isn’t measuring on the catastrophic charts doesn’t mean that you aren’t hurting. Somewhere along the way, we’ve learned the “well at least I’m not facing that” type of rubric for counting our blessings in times of trouble. Counting blessings shouldn’t be a comparison to someone else’s woes.
Counting blessings is taking full inventory with a grateful heart of what you do have.
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So when the pain comes, it’s real, and it’s right where you are supposed to be at that moment. Stand in the spotlight and face whatever your battle is, big or small, and own your struggle. Discounting it against someone else’s pain may make you lose sight of the lesson you need to learn.
One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis.
This unsteady ground sparked a lot of soul searching, penny pinching and drive to make changes. These tough times usually happen again, so how did I manage our situation?
Surviving a Financial Crisis
1. Be Thankful
I know that sounds counter intuitive to where you are, but from gratitude comes grace, from praise comes joy. When stuck in the pity party pit, the clear skies ahead remain cloudy. Find something to alter your focus and look for something that gives you joy and give thanks. With an attitude adjustment, you will me mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
2. Take Inventory
Looking around at what you do have can help you gain perspective. It could be a great time to find things that bring you happiness, like an old photo album or your favorite song. It could also be a smart time to find things to sell. Evaluate an item’s usefulness or sentimental value. If unused over a year, get rid of it and make a profit while doing it!
3. Make a List
My go to plan is to make a list of what I can do, but sometimes that creates stress. I had a dear friend challenge me on how to make my list. Instead of making a list of the jobs I’m capable of doing, make a list of what I want my days to look like. For us, I really want to continue homeschooling our boys, and every job possibility would alter that, so I made a list of how I want my days to go and from there, try to find a job that fits my lifestyle.
4. Get Control of What you Can at This Moment
When life seems out of control, find something beneficial you can get control of, like exercise, or diet. Organize your closets, weed your garden, clean your garage – anything to give you a temporary reprieve from that reeling feeling.
5. Budget, Budget, Budget
How do I budget without income coming in? Even in dire circumstances, you can look at your expenses and find ways to cut corners. For now, our Christmas budget remains on hold, as well as entertainment and eating out. Taking a snapshot of your bills helps you to reevaluate your purchases. Can you cancel your cable? Cut back on cellular usage?
These are some steps you can make when tough times hit. Being patient for the next thing may not sound logical, but it could ultimately lead to your happiness. Just recently, we found out that we have a small extension in our crisis, so waiting was the right thing to do. God already worked this out for us, and the great shoe debacle was just a passing bump in the road. We learned that this had helped us focus on what we can do before the entire thing crumbles.
Hopefully these tips will help you when you are facing a financial crisis.
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