I was reading an interesting post over at PT Money, "How to Save Money Like a Madman."
This is the part that really caught my eye:
Get Paranoid - Like the madman, you’ve got to believe that "they are out to get you!" By "they" I mean life emergencies and set-backs: job losses, higher taxes in retirement, medical problems, etc.
Tim and I have been living this way for years. When you have two people with chronic health problems, life setbacks are practically routine. They're everything but scheduled.
Tim's MRSA creates boils that have to be seen by his doctor. Two doctors' visits (treatment and check-up) means $30 of co-pays. That's twice a month (if we're lucky). Then there's the eczema flare-ups. And the cost of his quitting smoking again.
And even in regular "healthy" people's lives, there are always unexpected costs cropping up: there are cavities and illnesses, computers breaking and cars making weird noises, funerals happen across the country.
Anyone trying to live frugally and/or pay off debt needs to live by the motto: "Expect the unexpected."
Most people hate that saying. They think it's contradictory. But nowhere does it say that you have to guess exactly what's going to happen. But you do need to be prepared for your budget to be blown. If you aren't ready for it, you'll quickly go stark, raving mad.
When I used to do very detailed budgets (had to give it up for sanity's sake), I would always allot an extra $50-$100 for what I affectionately called the "Oh, crap!" fund. Well... That's the sanitized name, if you catch my drift.
Nowadays, we just use the broadstrokes: We keep checking around $150 and throw the rest at bills. It's easier and more realistic in the long run.
And so we come to the title of the post: Optimistic pessimist. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. If you're wrong, it's a good thing. If you're right, you're in a better position to laugh it off.
Sometimes it's about life not catching you off-guard. And often, it's about finding the small victories.