Taking Control Of Adverse Financial Situations


Mark Baker Tweeted out the following;

I don't actually understand the benefit of doing this but in the context of taking what you need and leaving what you don't there is a use for this in a personal financial context that I will focus on for this post.

Morgan Housel's latest blog post is titled Let Me Convince You To Save Money. If you read it you will see a lot of overlap with what I've been saying here for many years. He uses the word flexibility frequently in the post, lately I've been using the word optionality. The level importance of living below your means and saving money is that you will make every other aspect of your life easier.

Once you get some time under your belt of living below your means saving money you begin to realize that you are better able to withstand the shock of an expensive car repair or home project that cannot be pushed off any longer. Being able to cover a $2000-$4000 unexpected expense isn't that large in scale but empowering nonetheless. There is a psychic benefit to being self sufficient financially in this context and of course it is beneficial to not have to still be making payments for your new car radiator or new electrical panel 16 months after the fact. This is the definition or optionality and/or flexibility.

On a larger scale, what is your optionality and/or flexibility in the face of a more serious financial event like having your hand forced at work in terms of getting fired/downsized/laid off/anything else that results in you no longer getting a paycheck? To Baker's Tweet above, have you spent any time pondering being out of work? How resilient could you be in the face of a job loss? Resiliency could be thought of in terms of how long you could last financially based on your accumulated savings, your confidence in your ability to replace (or exceed) your income with a new job and I would add your ability to cover a meaningful portion of your expenses if you were underemployed (earning less than your potential).

As Housel reiterates in his post, much of how resilient you are in this context is in your control by virtue of your spending habits. Regardless of how much you make, it is much easier to cover a $4000 monthly lifestyle than a $10,000 monthly lifestyle (stating the obvious). If you don't spend every penny you can cover a meaningful portion of your expenses even if you're underemployed. Getting as much mortgage as you can qualify for and continually having car payments are the simplest examples I can think of to illustrate a self-imposed challenge to living below your means but people spend money on all sorts of things.

Figuring all of this out is a very personal thing but the sooner you get there, the easier every other aspect of your life will be.