As readers may have noticed, things have been a little quiet at The Frugal Bunch. There have been a few major changes to Mr. and Mrs. FB’s lives lately, and it got a little hectic.
Late last month, I, Mrs. FB, started having trouble with my left arm, which quickly escalated. To make a long story short, an underlying health condition (hopefully acute) was discovered, and we had to make the difficult decision for me to leave my employment (which strongly relied on constant movement and lifting).
Initially, it was difficult to pull anything but a gut punch from this situation. We had been using my income almost exclusively as our savings builder, plus rounding out a few hundred dollars of expenses each month. With the exception of retirement savings and FSA contributions, our savings has been a big, fat zero and it was suddenly essential to slash a few hundred dollars out of our already slim budget - something that we mostly accomplished until one of our vehicles decided it needed a $527 repair, and $150 new tabs. (I informed it in very strict tones that if it makes any more messes, it is going to the scrapyard. I wasn’t serious, but I hope that it scared it into compliance. Please note that I only use this tactic with inanimate objects). Fortunately, according to maintenance schedules, September should be a surprise-free month in terms of vehicle expenditures, although admittedly I am still glad we purchased this freezer a week before I started having troubles.
After some of the initial shock wore off, I did realize that I learned some valuable life lessons from this experience. For example, I did not know that it was company-specific whether you are automatically opted into temporary disability insurance, and I assumed I had been when I most decidedly had not. (Before comment wars begin, I would like to remind you that before we can be old and wise we must be young and foolish, and I would argue this happening falls in the second category). A few minutes of paperwork checking and a few dollars a month could have given me 65% of my wages and ensured that I still had employment after this frustrating experience ended. At every place of work from now on, I will double check this particular policy.
I also was reminded of a few things I genuinely felt long-term concerns about in terms of my work - it required substantial human interaction (which I was stressed about during the pandemic), is not conducive to flexible hours, and was frequently too loud for my tastes. Perhaps most frustrating, I felt “replaceable” - while it certainly takes a particular skillset to work in geriatrics, it is also a high turnover field - and indeed there was not much resistance when I resigned. After careful contemplation, I decided to turn towards a field I’d flirted with in the past and my husband is rather experienced in - computer science. Following some careful sifting of information and discussion, we agreed that I would focus very hard on attaining CompTIA A+ certification which will qualify me for many desk jobs that are currently being offered as remote positions. This solves a few problems: I can do work that I’m physically capable of doing and I can work remotely. Eventually, I can work my way up into a more specialized field of computer programming, and even delve into emerging technologies, such as cloud computing. As it turns out, this condition I’m experiencing has turned out to be a catalyst to many positive changes for our future.
For not-the-first-time, our emergency savings has been put to the test - in our three year marriage, we have three periods of unemployment between the two of us, alongside our share of emergency medical costs. As in other times, it hasn’t been easy, but we are pulling through based on our own savings. The important lesson of building an emergency fund has definitely been proved once again.
Perhaps the most important lesson, though, is the reminder of how much my family means to me. My husband is seriously the best. He has taken almost sole responsibility for household chores (most of which I simply can’t do, or can’t do for more than 3 minutes before needing to rest), he has been a champion cheerleader and tutor, and he has granted an almost never-ending supply of patience. Truly, the best things in life cannot be bought or sold, and I wouldn’t trade the relationship that we have for all the money in the world. I don’t say this to make honey start dripping down your screen from how sickly sweet we are, but because my first rule of finance, which is that people come first, was proven true yet again for us and I would strongly advocate to anyone that your spouse/family is your first defense against crippling financial defeat, whether or not they have money, because it is those relationships that keep us going.
I look forward to giving an update on our goings-on soon. Until next time, stay frugal!
I spend most of my spare time playing with spreadsheets, my violin, or planting vegetables in my garden in hopes of bringing new insights into frugal living. Please enjoy, and don't forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter here.
Disclaimer - Mrs. FB is not a financial advisor. Nothing in these articles should be construed as investment or other professional advice, but rather personal opinion. Some links in these posts may be to affiliate sites - no products are advertised through this site that have not been personally used by the FB family unless expressly labeled.