In the early 1980s my father was raising three teenagers, and in deep financial trouble. I'd come home from school to find the water had been shut off. By nightfall the electricity might be off as well.
Now my husband and I have three children and all the financial stress that comes with raising a family and paying a mortgage. Lately, I've been putting groceries on credit. Everyday, unanticipated expenses creep like termites beneath the floorboards.
But here's what I know. Things work out. They just do. It's what my father taught me.
One morning, my father and I were driving to 7-11 before school when he confided that he was in "serious" trouble - and that all the money he had to his name was sitting on the console between our seats. I glanced at a handful of pennies that were sticky with spilled Pepsi. I quizzed him. Was this really all the money we had? Yes.
Then he told me, that no matter what, he was going "to figure things out." He was going to get us out of this mess he was in. In his most desperate hour, he found an unconventional way to save us. He auctioned off the entire contents of our house; furniture, Grandma's antiques, and every collected treasure from our front porch. He used the cash to rescue the house from foreclosure. And, I know it's drastic, but in the big picture we were all okay. We learned that if the ship starts sinking, it's better to throw the less important things overboard. My father still says that after he sold everything he owned, he felt more happy and free than he ever had before.