You Can’t Prepare for Everything, But You Can Try
The last two weeks have brought home to me a pair of realities. The first reality is that we should all try to prepare for the future as best we can, making the most of every opportunity while we still have those opportunities. The second reality is that no matter how prepared we try to be, there will always be circumstances that are unforeseen and beyond our control.
Long story short, the reason I haven’t posted anything over the last few days is that life overwhelmed my plans. My wife and I recently become foster parents, and we took in our first two foster children two weeks ago. Speaking for myself, no amount of training and none of my previous parenting experience prepared me for the last two weeks. Every routine has been at least temporarily disturbed, and as a create of routine, that’s been pretty hard to deal with.
Then last week, just before Thanksgiving, I got a call late in the evening about a family medical emergency. Though the need for me to drop everything and leave town was not immediate, I did end up going out of town for a few days, therefore setting all of my plans aside. Part of that trip was spent talking to family members about the future. Questions about health care costs, insurance, long term care, and many related subjects were on the forefront of our minds.
On my last morning at the hospital with my family member, I was trying to do some work so I wouldn’t be completely behind when I got home. In the middle of that work my laptop locked up and crashed. When I tried to restart the laptop, it was dead. Worst of all, not everything I had on that laptop was backed up anywhere else—including dozens of post ideas for this site—and I’ll admit that the stress of the last two weeks caught up to me to the point where I was just short of screaming in frustration.
Now, a few days on the other side, I think I’ve discovered the problem with my laptop, and have been able to recover all my data. I’m slowly copying several hundred gigabytes of data to another drive as I sit here and write, and the replacement part I think I need to repair my computer should be here in a few days at a total cost of $50.
My family member is doing well, but has a lengthy recovery ahead. We were also able to at least get a start on figuring out all the plans we need to make as a family for the well-being of those involved. Those discussions will continue, but it’s a start.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!
What am I getting at here? Am I just moaning in hopes that some of you reading will commiserate and write some nice comments? Not at all. I’m imploring you to take advantage of every opportunity to prepare for the future while you still have opportunities available.
If you’re under 40 and haven’t started saving for your retirement years, you need to start now. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be able to comfortably rely on something like Social Security or Medicare to take care of you. Don’t lie to yourself and say, “I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll start saving later.” Even if you’re over 40, do something to prepare.
If you’re still in debt, I implore you to stop going deeper into debt and begin earnestly and intentionally working to get yourself free of debt as soon as possible. Yes, I’m a Dave Ramsey disciple, but I really don’t care how you get out of debt, just do it!
Get yourself all the different insurances you need, including a good health plan and disability. You may tell yourself you can’t afford it now. That’s all the more reason to get yourself out of debt and free up your resources to plan for calamity. And don’t forget to begin thinking about the need for long-term care insurance. No, you don’t need to actually purchase it until you’re 60, but you need to make plans to be able to afford it when the time comes.
And for goodness sake, learn from me and back up your data!
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.