Friday, August 19, 2011

Fixed Income Living-Managing Temporary Bumps In The Road

There seems to be a lot of financial talk on retirement blogs these days.  It's understandable.  Deciding what we want to do with the money we have, how to live richly on what money we have available, can be a challenge for the best of us.

Occasionally in life, we hit a bump. So it is in my life. For the next few weeks, my budget is what good ole Dave Ramsey would call "bare bones" and I would describe as somewhere between social security and starving college student poverty. A confluence of events have conspired to put me into this place. Retirement savings are gone and social security has not begun, leaving me and my pension alone. While my businesses are moving forward, actual profit is in the horizon. My college student has lost his summer job and may need some minor assistance in the short term. Most importantly, I've made the financial investment to attend college-but won't see the accompanying grant money for a good three weeks.

I speak of this not to whine (although whining has its place in the short term). but to share some truths about temporary times such as this.

First, situations like this are not the end of the world.  Temporary bumps in the road happen. It's important to deal with situations like these and move forward. I could cry in my proverbial wine about having to put off or avoid regular activities. Instead, I look at it as a time to nest, declutter and relax.  I also remind myself that sometimes we make sacrifices for improvement or the better good. So it is in this case.  Whether my two years of education will lead me to a second career is questionable. But more knowledge and skills are never a bad thing, especially when such knowledge is gotten for better than free.

Second, because I am prepared or positioned in a generally positive way, some of the difficulties of a short term emergency are lessened. I am still not completely positioned the way I would like to be-there are steps to take.  But my  home pantry is stocked and have a freezer full of meat and fish on sale.  I have the necessities of my hobbies and interests at home, so I can do the things l love without spending money.  I have friends who also, overall, prefer social activities that are free or inexpensive.  I live in an area with easy access to libraries and free parks and events.  With one glaring exception (a choice not a need) that was long planned for, I need to spend no money other than for perishables.  As I mentioned in another post, I have no major savings to speak of-that will change with the receipt of my grant and increased business income (banked for emergencies). And I'll admit my current budget is a work in progress. Oh, and having no debt other than my house and limited monthly bills remain an asset as well. If I had credit cards, a car payment or other costs, life would be different.

Finally-and the most important point:  To date, I feel neither deprived nor depressed.  So far I've managed to enjoy myself, be entertained, and basically have my normally enriching life without spending money.  Have I put off a couple things?  You bet.  Could I live like this long term?  The answer is probably yes, but without as much reward. I enjoy the occasional concert, the occasional dining out, the occasional national or international travel opportunity.  They are important parts of my life-but in the short term, I can live richly without them.

Life is about choices, options, and preparation and attitude (among other things). By taking small, baby steps here and there to prepare and position myself, I've made it easier to withstand this temporary downturn.  By accepting my financial situation and budgeting to deal with it (admittedly an ongoing process), I've reached an overall level of satisfaction  I've also limited (and continue to limit even more) the monthly expenses I incur, leaving more "disposable income".

I'll certainly be happy mid September when that grant check arrives.  I'll be happier in October when the first social security payment hits my hand and a few drabs of income stream money as well. Meanwhile though, I'm content. I'm happy, comfortable and know whatever happens it will work out-and that's what counts.

oh, and that glaring exception. Its restaurant week here, meaning restaurant from the best french bistro on down have $35.00 prix fixe dinners where some goes to charity, and I'm going here.

5 comments:

  1. AFter our son's wedding at the beginning of next month- we are going on a savings kick. We live off of my husband's pension- but have stopped putting money in the bank. It is all outflow.
    So, I will join you on the bench----soon!

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  2. Anytime I worry that everyone has lost his mind, I read your posts and am reassured that there are beacons of sanity out there.

    Most folks are so self-absorbed that the bumps in their life become giant sinkholes to complain about and look for someone else to blame.

    I am convinced that you would be an absolutely fascinating person to talk to and share stories. You seem to have it together.

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  3. Perspective is everything. You have a wonderful way of accepting things as they are and making the best of it. I really admire the way you are planning your life. Good luck with school. Hopefully it will lead to more opportunities for you.

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  4. Goodness! I think Bob wants a date! But he's right and so are you--when we undergo frugal bumps but know that there's a goal to be reached, it is so much easier.

    I've spent more than I should have in August (thanks to needy but adorable grandkids!) so September is going to be one of those bumpy times for me.

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  5. Okay, I gues I need to be a little bit more negative, LOL. Admittedly there is a little nag of worry-untill I get that emergency fund replaced-which is why I think its sooo important to hve an emergency fund.

    That said, my families christmas choices are just the opposite of Bob's and update on my 400 holiday coming soon.

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