Written by Trent Hamm, The Simple Dollar is a popular personal finance blog that chronicle's one man's road back from overwhelming debt to financial security. Hamm declared the contents of the blog to be in the Public Domain in 2008 and available for sharing when attributed properly. We will share a couple of posts a week.
Your spouse comes home this evening in tears. “They fired me!” she shouts.
Your oldest child gets sick, goes to the doctor, and has a medical condition that’s going to take a mint to treat.
You have a car accident on the way home, totaling your car. The police show up and you’re at fault for the accident.
You forget to turn off the stove top in a rush to get dinner on the table before going to the school program. When you turn down the street toward your house, you see your home go up in flames.
These situations are all disastrous. They’re each going to cost you a ton of money and personal effort.
In each of these cases, the initial response to the situation can be pure panic. You hyperventilate. You can’t think. You are filled with panic as you wonder aimlessly about what you’re going to do. You toss a very poorly thought out solution at the problem, usually one that costs money and doesn’t really help at all.
That’s a really bad response at a time where it’s vital that you respond well.
Thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem: playing the scenario game.
All you have to do is spend some time regularly thinking through this scenario. I find that it’s a worthwhile thing to do if I’m just sitting in traffic with my mind idling or I’m emptying the dishwasher. I’ll think of a scenario that would really be problematic for our family and I mentally walk through the steps I’d need to take to handle it.
What would we do if Sarah lost her job? Well, we’d seek out a new insurance program, for starters. Sarah would likely have to seek a new job or perhaps even a different career path. She’d also need some extra emotional support during that time.
If our house burned down, I’d contact our insurance agent, whose number I have on my phone. I also have our policy number on my phone. I’d simply get the ball rolling on the claim as fast as I possibly could.
Each scenario I think through helps in two primary ways.
One, I’m mentally prepared for the disaster with a gameplan that I’ve thought through several times. Although I’d be hit with a tidal wave of emotion, I would have a rock-solid gameplan to cling to, one that would get me through the situation.
Two, I have lots of little problematic steps taken care of. A great example of this is having my insurance information on my cell phone as well as on a scrap of paper in my wallet. If our house burned down, I would quickly be able to make that call with information in hand, eliminating a potential hurdle during that crisis moment.
It might seem like negative thinking, but I almost always feel really good when I think through a scenario like this. I feel far more in control of my life and I also feel that if something bad were to happen, I would know what to do and I would be able to handle it in a more responsible fashion, to my own benefit and the benefit of those around me.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic or doing something idle for a few moments, think through a scenario. Ask yourself what the best response you could possibly make would be. How would you handle it ideally? What could you do now to make it possible for you to handle things ideally if such a situation ever occurred?
You might just find that you come up with some very good answers to those questions, and those answers could make all the difference in a life-changing situation.