Thursday, September 18

Optimistic pessimist

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.

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Blogger Jackie B. said...

Great post. I agree with this philosophy. Some people are always saying I am so negative but I just laugh at them because I know I am just being realistic. And...I can usually bail myself out of a negative situation faster than any of the eternal optimists because of my prior preporations!

September 19, 2008 at 4:06 PM

Blogger sunny said...

The link to PT Money didn't work for me...

so I googled the post title and found this:

September 22, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Sorry about that Sunny. Thanks for the second link!

September 22, 2008 at 12:17 PM

Blogger Natural & Frugal said...

My boyfriend are currently dealing with his health issues as well - AT LEAST $300/month in meds and dr.'s visits...argh. Just wanted to say I feel ya, and that I love that I've discovered your blog!

September 22, 2008 at 7:29 PM

Blogger Abby said...

I suppose I can't say I'm glad you're in the same boat as me. But misery does love company. What are your bf's health problems? (Assuming they are something you're willing to discuss...)

September 22, 2008 at 7:52 PM

Blogger Natural & Frugal said...

Ah, yes, we love to find people in the same situation so we can all rag on the healthcare system :)
He has Lyme disease that had gone undiagnosed for at least 3 years. We're very happy he's now being treated, but the medical costs are ridiculous. He's already reached his out of pocket max, but will still be paying around $300-$500 each month for the doctor visit (has to see her 1x month & is $200) and naturopathic drugs.
I've just started reading your blog-what issues are you guys dealing with (if you don't mind me asking)

September 22, 2008 at 10:17 PM


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