Guest Contributor Lisa Skordahl makes her home in Coon Rapids, Minnesota with her husband and two wonderful daughters. She works as an accountant and enjoys teaching and counseling in personal finance. She is driven by a desire to help others succeed when it comes to money, no matter their income.
It was a perfect storm. Circumstances were coming together that would soon threaten my sense of financial security in a way I had become good at dodging. Individually these circumstances were significant, but combined – they had the power for an event of catastrophic magnitude.
Normally, I am financially conservative. I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey and debt-free living, but when my daughter offered four airline vouchers for the family’s use, my cash envelope system went into hiding. I convinced myself and my husband that one way or another, we would come up with the additional money needed for the trip. After all, we deserved a vacation and the tickets were going to expire.
Family vacation came and went and then unexpected car repairs came in like a flood. A long awaited home project went over budget and a midwestern high school graduation party for my daughter was hosted. The stormed raged on. Incoming funds that were expected were delayed. An unexpected accident requiring medical deductibles, and an HSA fund that was underfunded (because, after all, we are healthy) was my final wave. The perfect storm had hit me hard.
Dave Ramsey says, “You can tell who’s been skinny dipping when the tide goes out.” I know this stuff, I even teach this stuff, but I’m not perfect or exempt. Life happens to me too. The important thing is to have a plan which includes not just the ups, but the downs of life as well. Life events are going to happen, are you ready?
Some suggestions I have for savings goals are: never take a vacation you haven’t prefunded, save around $1,000 per year, per car, in your household, (yes, even for newer model cars as maintenance will be required), and know your health insurance deductibles and be prepared to meet them if needed. HSA accounts (if available to you) are a tax-free way to save for medical deductibles, orthodontics, eyewear, and many other medical expenses, and any unused balances stay in the account until needed.
We can’t always predict what life will throw our way, but we can know that God is our provider, and he cares about our every need. Luke 12: 22-34 reminds us that we are to seek His kingdom first, and He will be with us through the rough patches, even those of our own choosing.