Monday, November 3, 2008

Spring Ahead, Fall Back

This is pretty weird. I thought I posted this last night, but it was just sitting as a draft. Let's try this again. And now it posts but at the time I originally tried to post it (i.e. just after midnight Sunday, so very early Monday morning, even though now it's after midnight again and is now technically Tuesday). Okay, fine. It's actually appropriate how time-challenged this post is. [cue X Files or Twilight Zone music]

Early Sunday morning we turned the clocks back and got an extra hour of sleep. Apparently, that extra hour may be good for your health (always assuming you didn't just stay up later than normal).

But I tend to think of the useful phrase "spring ahead, fall back" as more than a way to remember which way to turn the clock. It pretty much describes my progress in financial matters.

I make some progress and then I crash and burn. Sometimes it's pretty clearly my own fault. I had a bill. I didn't pay it when I should have. I spent the money I could have used to pay the bill on something frivolous, like groceries or gas. The bill suddenly becomes important. I somehow pull together the money to pay it. If that happened once, it wouldn't be a big deal but it's not just once. I pretty much just rinse and repeat.

Other times, something comes at me out of left field, like the water pump and related car repair bills. I didn't do anything to make it malfunction. We even take the car in pretty regularly for the maintenance stuff like oil changes. But it happens and it needs to be taken care of immediately. Much drama. But again, the money appears from somewhere and disaster is averted.

What do I do then? I say Thank You to the Boss because, ultimately, He's responsible for getting the money to me. But I need to do more. I need to work harder on these things, so that they have less and less impact over time and so that eventually the first category won't happen. Unexpected issues will always continue to crop up however, so I also need to keep plugging away on an emergency fund.

Even if I have to dip into it every few months an emergency fund is important. Maybe "especially" if I have to keep dipping into it. When you don't have an emergency fund and something happens, you're in big trouble.

But the most frustrating part for me personally about the situation of taking "3 steps forward, 2 steps back" is that I keep feeeling like I'm in the middle of Groundhog Day or that X Files episode where the day keeps repeating endlessly.

I know I need to do something differently but everything I try comes out pretty much the same. When will I get it "right" so the replays will stop?

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