Financial Freedom and the Government Shutdown
Since my last post, I’ve been wickedly busy trying to finish up fiscal yearend duties, only to be furloughed 12 hours later. Like many Federal employees across the planet, I’ve been home, watching insanely conflicting news on TV, worrying about when I could go back to work, when will I get another paycheck, how to do fill out unemployment forms for the first time in 27 years. Theoretically, I could have been writing or creating during this time, but I haven’t been in the right headspace for that. I’ve been way too impotent and angry at the way my country’s leaders have used us as pawns.
And yet, I’m in a much better place than so many of my friends and co-workers, including ones called back to work without a paycheck in sight. Unlike some of them, I’m not applying for food stamps and I’m not putting groceries, rent, medicine, and utilities on my credit card. I’m not having to borrow money to survive until the next paycheck. Why?
For those of you who read me regularly, you know that last December, I decided to realllllly get my financial house in order and get rid of both the spiritual and financial burden of past relationships. For all the gnawing exasperation with the Government Shutdown, the one thing I didn’t have to worry about was making it a few months on my savings. That doesn’t mean I’m shopping or having the tree surgeon come out to remove that big tree just yet or buying gas to visit my mom or my kids. I’m being very careful with what I spend but I’m not worried about where my next meal is coming from. At least not for a long while.
Last fall, my intuition started “kicking up” that I needed to make sure I was in a safe place financially or at least in the best place I could be. That meant amping up my savings and making some smart financial decisions. I had two huge financial goals and in September, I met one and was close to meeting the other. This, my friends, is what can happen if you set big goals. You’ve got to have a vision of how you want things to be out there in the future and a direction in which to sail. When I set these goals, I really doubted I could manage them, but as I got closer, I got more excited about making it and I did. One goal, the one I met, was hard but within my control. The other was not.
I paid off all my debt except the house, and even managed to get the mortgage down to where I’d hoped. Then I increased my savings to 6-8 months’ living expenses. Between the two, there is a certain level of relief for me that I would not otherwise have.
I think that this Government shutdown will serve as a wake-up call for many furloughed Federal employees who realize just how close they are to the edge–as are many non-Federal employees. For me, it’s last Autumn’s wake-up call come to fruition, and a reminder to continue doing what I’m doing in regard to cleaning up finances. It’s not enough to think about where I am right now and if I’m financially okay right now. It’s not enough for me to think ahead a month or two and figure I’ll let the same lifestyle rack up credit card debt I’ll take care of later. I have to envision where I want to be in 6 months, in a year, in 5 years, in 40 years.
An outlook of less than 6 months is not okay, not in finances or in career: always look beyond to the future you want to have.