It happened again yesterday, as it’s happened a couple of different times over our journey to get out of debt. I was talking with someone when they shared a story with me that firmly established in my heart why it’s so important we keep on our journey toward debt freedom.
In this most recent case, the story was about a friend of ours. The friend is quite a bit older than us: late sixties or so. He’s been struggling with Type 2 Diabetes for several years now, and had to go into the hospital last week to be monitored as he waited for removal of a severely infected toe.
For those of you who don’t know a lot about Type 2 Diabetes, I’ll share a bit about it. I heard a doctor who specialized in treating Type 2 Diabetes describe the occurrence of the disease this way: What happens with Type 2 Diabetes is that basically your body simply gets worn out from trying to burn off over-consumption of calories, especially sugar calories.
Part of the ramifications of Type 2 Diabetes is that it inhibits the body’s power to heal. In my loved one’s case, he got a cut on the toe that got infected and the infection spread to the bone in spite of antibiotics given to prevent infection. Now the toe has to be removed in order to stop the infection from spreading further.
Thankfully, all of his medical expenses are covered because he’s a vet.
The problem is that he really can’t afford to be out of work for a week. He has no savings, debt to pay on and is self-employed. So for him, no work means no pay. No pay and no savings means he can’t pay his bills.
Instead of being able to put all of his focus on getting well, he has to focus on how he can get out of the hospital as quickly as possible so he can get back to work.
Whenever I hear stories like this they scare the crap out of me. I don’t ever want our family to be in that situation. And while I don’t believe in letting fear control me, I do like to use fear as a motivator.
We’ll Be “Just Fine”
It was just two or three years ago that I heard another similar story about one of our loved ones. Consistently working, the couple was easily able to make the payments on their heavy debt load. They were doing “just fine.”
Then he came down with cancer and wasn’t able to work for many months. With little to no savings and a heavy debt load, they needed those paychecks. They were running on balder-than-bald tires because they didn’t have the money for new ones. Again, decisions were made not on need but on the need of money.
Eventually they had no choice but to file for bankruptcy and allow the bank to take their two rental properties. Luckily, they were allowed to stay in their primary residence.
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” –Dave Ramsey
Recommended Reading: Financial Peace Revisited: New Chapters on Marriage, Singles, Kids and Families
It’s been difficult watching two of our loved ones go through such hard times and have those times be complicated by a lack of money and a crap load of debt.
After we got the phone call about our friend with the toe removal surgery yesterday, two thoughts went through my head:
- You’d better seriously keep at this journey to financial wellness
- You’d better seriously keep at this journey to improve/maintain your good health
You see, there are two big problems that run rampant throughout my family. Not everyone is afflicted by them, but LOTS of people are.
The first is largely preventable health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes.
The second is largely preventable financial problems such as heavy debt loads and anorexic savings accounts.
While some family traits are unavoidable, others can certainly be conquered with hard work and commitment. There are traits you have no control over, such as your bone size or the shape of your nose, and there are the traits you get to choose whether or not you’ll follow, such as poor money management choices, anger issues, how you take care of your body, etc.
As I shared with the kids the happenings with our friend, I also drove home the importance of getting and staying out of debt.
“This is why we do what we do with our money,” I told them. It’s why we rarely go out to eat. Why we budget. Why we spend money on needs and work to avoid many wants. Why we keep sugar consumption to a minimum and work to eat largely whole foods.
Let’s read the Dave Ramsey quote again:
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” –Dave Ramsey
Has your lack of money been controlling you for far too long? I know it has for us. And I am sick and tired of making decisions based on money instead of based on the need itself. This is why we do what we do. Many people shake their heads at us in disbelief, because they can’t understand why we are foregoing YOLO opportunities in search of what seems to them to be an impossible dream: financial freedom.
Recommended Reading: Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Ind ependence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century
You CAN Change Your Financial Family Tree
If you are sick and tired of being stressed out about money too, consider starting your own journey to debt freedom so that you don’t have to fall into a lack of money forever controlling you. Read this awesome series about how and why you can and should get out of debt, starting today:
How and Why You Should Get Out of Debt: Intro
How and Why You Should Get Out of Debt: Part 1
How and Why You Should Get Out of Debt: Part 2
How and Why You Should Get Out of Debt: Part 3
I’ll warn you right off the bat that it’s not always easy getting out of debt. But I can tell you that it gets easier over time once you develop your new money habits. It also helps to keep your motivational list of whys right at the forefront of your mind.
Please, for the sake of your future, stop telling yourself you’ll be “just fine” if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck with a heavy debt load and non-existent savings. Although that may be the easiest route to choose in the short-term, it could be disastrous in the long term.
Don’t let your debt define you or control you any longer, my friends. It’s only money, and you deserve to be in control of it instead of having it control your life. Your debt does not define you, my friends. Or at least you don’t have to let it define you. Choose today to take back your money and take back your life at the same time. You deserve the BEST.
Is there a story that scared you into getting your money under control? Do you find that the problems you are working to overcome seem to run in your family?
those kinds of stories scare the crap out of me too. I have plenty of friends who are also doing “just fine” and making money, but spending it as fast as they make it. But it only takes that one thing to set you completely off course. And that’s the worst of it. What if you just found yourself in a toxic job situation and really wanted to get out but couldn’t? No thanks! Hopefully those days for me are over! Thanks for sharing that story!
Exactly, Tonya!!!! Watching loved ones suffer because of a lack of financial choices is SO difficult, but it really does encourage me to stay on course.
Sorry to hear you’ve had two reminders hit so close to home. Hope these families are doing well. They do however serve as reminder of how important it is to get organized with your finances. We had a gently reminder from a family member before we began to get organized. They has two children in college and were struggle to pay tuition and bills. I looked at their situation and said to myself that us in a few years if we don’t get our finances in order.
It is hard to watch loved ones struggle like that, but it’s good to use the motivation to get your own stuff together.
Love this, Laurie! It’s hard to watch loved ones struggle with health and money. And, you’re right, it is incredibly motivating. A friend of ours recently underwent hip replacement surgery and returned to work (a physical job) 12 short days later because he couldn’t “afford” to be off of work any longer. I thank my lucky stars we would be able to take the time to heal if we were in the same situation.
Oh my goodness, that’s so sad! Hip replacement is a big deal! But I get it. This is what we are watching in our own loved ones lives too.
I’m so sorry to hear about your friends. One of my good friend’s husband also has type 2 diabetes and had part of his foot removed due to infection too. Their stories are good reminders of how quickly “just fine” can disappear when an emergency happens. I think the #1 cause of most bankruptcies is a medical emergency. They are so expensive that even people with decent savings/emergency funds can struggle and those without one are in a real pickle. I love that quote you shared from Dave Ramsey. I truly believe when your body and mind are strong, it is so much easier to make good financial decisions.
So sorry to hear about your friend’s hubby!! It’s so important to take good care of our bodies, both for physical reasons and financial reasons.
Sorry to hear about your friends being in these situations. As you said in the comment to Tonya, it really is difficult when you see others struggle with their financial situations. It also really motivates you to get your financial situation in order, because you see what the consequences of not doing so would be.
I know that’s what it does for me. Sometimes fear really can be an awesome motivator.
I love this! Hope your friend is OK and doing better! Fears keeps me motivated alright. Witnessing my uncles passed away 10 month apart. One had no debt and lived 14 years with cancer and didn’t have to worry about working. The other worked until the end and died right away. This scared me and motivated me to keep going. Then this year, in May had a rough labor and had major surgery. But because we worked so hard to continue with our financial journey we didn’t have to worry about money just focus on me and my family. Keep doing what you are doing and thank you for being such a great inspiration!
Joyce, so sorry to hear about your uncles but SO happy for you that your discipline in paying off your debt and saving allowed you and your family to focus on getting well. So proud of you, my friend!!! This is what I’m talking about.
My uncle has juvenile diabetes (unsure which type that is) but he’s in his early 40’s and had one of his toes amputated this summer because of infection. He left self-employment in the construction industry partially because he needed the health benefits and also because of the ’09 downturn.
This year, he’s basically burned through his vacation and sick time through the year. Thankfully he’s pretty good at his job so they are being flexbile with him as they cut a shift during the summer as well.
As you mentioned, there are some traits that are unavoidable but how we manage them can make all the difference in the world. I know there’s some things he could have done differently to have fewer medical issues, but I know we have our own problems that others wonder how we cannot see what is causing them.
From what I’ve read about juvenile diabetes it doesn’t start as a result of poor self-care but still can have the same disastrous results without proper management, as your uncle’s story proves. With all the junk food available in stores and restaurants today, making healthy food choices takes lots of discipline.
Sorry to hear about your loved ones’ troubles, Laurie. I can identify because as you may know, I suffer not only with type 2 diabetes but also with heart issues that caused me to retire early unexpectedly. I am just thankful that my only debt was my mortgage and that I had prepared for retirement. It is critically important to take care of your health and your financial health as well. Plus, get long term disability insurance while you are healthy, just in case!
Yes, exactly, Gary! That was another bummer for my friend because he didn’t have any LTD insurance. Some people don’t know that you can get independent policies for LTD too. Your own personal story is a perfect example of how being financial prepared can ease stressors hugely in a case like yours where you had to retire early. Good work, my friend!
Ah, sorry to hear about your friend – but how lucky that he doesn’t have to pay for his medical bills. I am in the UK and I always feel so bad that you guys have to pay for your medical bills.
I think none of us know what the future will hold, so preparing for the worst (and hoping for the best) is what will protect you for future problems.
Yes, that was the one bright spot in this thing. You guys seem to have great govt health care there, but our version of it is absolutely horrible. Hopefully they’re working on making the necessary changes to our healthcare system.
So sorry to hear about your friends and what they are going through Laurie… Health and finances are two parts of our lives that we need to maintain to be our healthiest selves. Great post Laurie. You’ve given me some food for thought…
Yes, Mackenzie, they are!! I know you are working on doing the right things for yourself and your family too, my friend. We got this!
I’m glad your friend is okay and that all the expenses are covered! Being self-employed definitely has its downsides – health insurance and no sick days being at the top of the list. That’s why I keep such a hefty emergency fund.
Technically, something similar happened to my parents. They were doing “okay” with paying off debt, until my dad lost his job. They recovered after he got a new one, but they never learned their lesson the first time, so when he lost that job, they were back at square one. No savings, still in debt. It put a lot of strain on us, and ever since, I also allowed fear to motivate me to save.
Many of us take our ability to work for granted. That can be taken away from us rather quickly, and it pays to be prepared.
I remember vividly you sharing your story, Erin. One of the reasons we are working so hard in spite of the tough, tough work of paying off this much debt is because we are staunchly committed to not having our children have to support us in old age.
I’m a pessimist at times, and I often think of worst case scenarios, so fear does drive me in some respects. Stories like this are what make me so upset when I see people NOT stashing away at their HSA (if given the option). There’s a lot of “healthy” 20- and 30-somethings who see no reason to put money in there because they rarely go to the doctor. Well what about when you are in your 60s, 70s, 80s? Think of what a huge impact you can have on your retirement by taking advantage of maxing out your HSA TODAY! I need to stop this comment because I’m getting worked up haha
LOL, funny but true, DC. I’ve really noticed now, heading on fifty, that I have to be much more diligent about the way I eat and about getting regular exercise. Luckily I still rarely have to go to the doc, but it takes lots of discipline to keep me healthy.
I am so sorry about your friend but I am so glad you are speaking about this topic. We need to make sure that we take care of ourselves both our health and our finances!!!
Yes indeed, MSM. The two topics really make an impact on one’s quality of life, either for better or for worse.
It’s actually my own experience that scared the crap out of me. Members of my family are all good with money – I’m the exception. (Youngest-of-5-syndrome? I don’t know.) Fear certainly motivates me too. I do know a couple of people who I believe are headed for financial disaster, and I’m frustrated by my inability to do anything about it. It’s like watching a train approach a cliff.
Interesting, Ruth!! I don’t have an insight, but let me know if you find out the answer. 🙂 I hear you on the pain of watching loved ones headed for financial disaster. It’s tough.
For those who are planning to start a debt-free journey. Go for it and enjoy the experience. It’s really a good way to sort out all finances, and once you experience its results, you’d never want to be in debt again. 🙂 Right Laurie?
So true, Jayson!
Very interested to read your post as always and it really got me thinking. I watched a very informative programme on the BBC last week – I wonder if Francesca, Pennies to Pounds – saw it to. It focused on the cost of Type 2 Diabetes to the UK National Health Service. Compared to other illnesses and accidents etc the cost of treating Type 2 is mind boggling!
In the past I worked, for over 15 years, in the field of Health Education. That was about 20 years ago and still the messages are not getting through! At the moment it is not a problem for ‘Im-in-doors and myself although we do have other more minor problems – well we are getting on a bit! But we do try to control what we eat, and take moderate exercise. Hopefully it will be enough to keep us healthy.
You draws a very interesting analogy between health and finance. You just can not put a price on good health but we can all try to do what we can to help ourselves. Baby steps, baby steps but they all add up.
People often think free govt health care is free, but it really isn’t!!! That is so powerful about the massive costs of Type 2 Diabetes treatment on the govt. And in reality, it’s you and Mr. I’m-indoors, along with many other citizens, who are burdening this higher cost through taxes. So happy for the two of you that you’re taking care of yourself. Those baby step choices really do add up if one keeps at them.
Yikes! Thanks for this reminder Laurie. I have been kind of “lax” in my spending lately and it’s time to kick it back in gear.
We’ve not been lax but there has been SO many necessities: new tires for two vehicles, some home repair stuff, etc. It’s adding up big time!!!
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