Moving out of denial can be tough. It’s fun floating in a little cruise ship on de river of de Nile. But if you’ve ever been to Cairo, you’ve seen that the Nile is a river best seen at night. In the same way that the Nile remains dirty and polluted even when covered in darkness, dark situations in our own life don’t clean themselves up just because we refuse to see them.
I am experiencing some tough times in my own life right now. I have been diagnosed with a stage 3 cancer. The treatment plan is solid, the prognosis is good, but this is going to decimate my current financial plans. That’s a hard fact to face at this stage in my life, but I must acknowledge that truth before I can free myself of it. I’m going to get it out of my system right up front and say that I am not happy this is coming to me in my mid-fifties, just as retirement was starting to seem a reachable goal. There, I’m done whining, promise. The question is, where am I now that the map has changed on me, the streets have been renamed, and I failed to update my navigation system before I started this trip?
I am better off than some. I set aside part of my retirement savings in a ROTH so that it could double as a rainy day fund. That gives me the ability to withdraw up to the amount that I have contributed without penalty or tax consequences and it will be a great help. I am saying a quick thank you to my younger self for that decision. All of a sudden, though, this blog is a diary of my journey to regain financial health instead of sharing what I have learned on life’s journey. Well, it is a little bit of both, but it has become personally quite a bit more important to me.
I need to revisit my retirement plans. I will need to either work longer, find a way to bump up my earnings, or cut expenses. Pretty simple options, but I don’t especially like any of them. This brush with serious illness has changed the way I look at time and life. Although the prognosis for me is good, I am suddenly very aware that life is time-limited, and I don’t want to spend all of it working in a job that provides for my needs but does not give me internal satisfaction. So, it looks like I will be concentrating on cutting expenses for the time being.
There are some easy and obvious places to start. I am a “relationship” person. I tend to build business relationships with people I trust and stay with them for decades, even if the level of service changes and I am no longer as satisfied. I can start looking at some of these relationships, get some competitive quotes, and think about which of these ongoing expenses can be cut back, perhaps with no input on my lifestyle.
Have you faced similar set backs in your life? What helped you to get back on track? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.