Mitigating the Damage
There are times when you should be trying to make more money and to pay down debt and save money. There are times when you should try to make calculations about whether your time is worth the money you are making. Maybe there are times when you should be focusing on cutting big fixed costs (such as housing, cars etc.)
But then there are times in crises when those things are just not possible.
There are times when you have to focus on Mitigating the Damage. When you need to focus on earning and saving every dollar and doing your best to keep your head above water.
When a crisis hits such as unemployment, disability or a pandemic then you may need to focus on mitigating the damage. Yes, we all should have fully stocked emergency funds. Yes, we should all have paid leave. Yes, Yes to all those things.
But the reality is that we don’t have those things and spending time regretting and lamenting isn’t exactly going to change anything. (I think we do need to push for societal change and we do need to work on saving for an emergency fund but in the moment that is not the answer). When you are in this type of situation the only recourse is to accept that damage will be done and then work to mitigate it.
When you have a leaking bucket you need to plug the hole in the bucket. If you can go buy a new bucket then go right ahead but if you can’t buy a new bucket and you are stranded in the desert and need water then you plug the hole as best you can and hope that not too much water spills out.
What do I mean in a practical sense?
You can’t frugal yourself to wealth but you can frugal yourself to less debt. make every penny stretch as much as you can. This is actually a good time to focus on making meals from scratch, not going out, cutting those lattes etc. Obviously you have to do what you have to do. If you need to spend money to survive physically and mentally than do it. That is what credit cards were invented for. But take a long hard look at your spending and cut whatever you can. When you have plenty of time on your hands, you can take the time to practice extreme frugality and extensive DIY solutions.
I actually feel that my moment as a blogger has come. My days of being unemployed gave me a perspective that has softened over the years. My instance that “every penny counts” and my goal of ample emergency funds lessened over the past few years. I forgot how quickly it all can get taken away. I forgot that life can change in an instant. I became complacent. My moment has come! I am reminded of all those lessons I learned. I am trying my best to share those with other people so they can feel that they have someone to relate too.
I am currently working from home (not easy with my kids home as well) and hope to get as many hours as I can. I only get paid by the hour so this will be a very tough time for us. I had planned on working a lot now to replenish our funds after taking maternity leave. I forgot one of the most crucial rules: never assume things will be better tomorrow when it comes to preparation.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I didn’t really do that. I assumed I would have no problem working extra to make some extra money. I assumed my tax refund would be available to be used for Pesach expenses. I did not assume that a pandemic would come and my kids and I would be stick at home for weeks. I could not have predicted that. I should have remembered that nothing ever goes to plan. Ever. For good or bad. But there is no point in wallowing in “could-have-beens” and honestly there is not that much that I could have changed even if I would have known. Now I can only focus on the now. Doing the best I can to make this a little less bad.
When I was unemployed I spent time doing tasks on Mechanical Turk for pennies. There are those who think that spending time doing tasks for pennies is not worth your time. I disagree. There are times when your time is frankly not worth more than 35 cents and you really need that 35 cents. Don’t get discouraged. There will be a time when you are making the big bucks and you will laugh about how you spent time doing task for ten cents. I know that I do.
But I am still grateful for being able to make that dime when I needed it. Because that dime turned into a ten dimes. And that dollar but me a few vegetables. It was a dollar less than I had to borrow. It was a dollar more than I had before. Its mitigating the damage. Its plugging the hole. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Don’t let anyone mock you for doing the best you can to get every penny you can, especially when a dime is all you have.