Earlier this week, Jayden came to me with a look that said, Please don’t hurt me.
“Mom? I think my shoes are too small again,” he mumbled.
“What?!? Surely not! I just bought them!”
“Well, I have to scrunch my toes up to walk, and it hurts.”
Please note that my child is famous for waiting forever to bring up important things. Like the time he mentioned a “red mark” on his arm over the phone while I was at work, and it ended up being a serious allergic reaction that left his entire body covered in 3-inch welts. So when he says something is wrong, I tend to believe him.
I had him put on the shoes, felt them, and nearly died when I felt his toes “scrunched up” at the ends. I bought these shoes in December. Less than 4 months ago. And while I realize that he’s 13 years old and growing like crazy, I was not prepared for the fact that he would need new shoes every five minutes to make it through puberty.
Due to what I like to call “Fred Flintstone syndrome,” the only shoes that fit Jayden properly are New Balance. In case you’ve never had the pleasure of finding out, those things don’t come cheap. Especially when he may outgrow them before I place the order.
This is a test of the emergency budget system.
In the past, a situation like this would have been easy to deal with – I would have pulled out a credit card, ordered a pair of shoes (okay, probably two or three), and paid extra for overnight shipping. So what if it cost me $100 or more upfront, then twice that in interest? We’re talking about my child’s comfort here! Or, even worse, I might have asked my parents to “loan” me the money to order new shoes for him – money I would never repay, because what parents take money from their kid who can’t afford a pair of shoes?
These days, random problems like this aren’t quite as simple. Not because I have less money – in fact, I actually have more at my disposal now that I don’t have credit card debt. No, what made the shoe situation complicated is deciding where the money would come from. Do I use my debit card? Do I pull money from the emergency fund? Should I use my Paypal balance? Having choices can be overwhelming when the only choice you’re used to is Visa or Mastercard.
Just when I started getting that icky feeling of uncertainty, I remembered my cash fund for replacing Jayden’s clothing – a fund for those moments when he rips the knees out of his jeans or grows 5 inches overnight. I haven’t used any of that money in awhile, so I forgot I had it. How much is in there? More than enough for a pair of shoes, as it turned out. Problem solved!
Are you proactive or reactive?
Jayden went to school with non-scrunched toes this morning, all thanks to the fact that I hide money from myself. Some people may laugh at the thought, but it works for me. Regardless of the methods I use, this has made a huge difference in the way I look at financial matters, from everyday things like shoes to my long-term goals.
In my former life, I was reactive - I waited until something important came up, then tried to figure out what to do about it. Many times, that resulted in irresponsible decisions. Now I take a more proactive stance by realizing that shoes don’t last forever, appliances stop working, and cars get flat tires. Saving for them NOW is much better than freaking out about them later.
What about you? Are you proactive or reactive when it comes to financial matters? How do you handle the unexpected in your life?