Monday, July 6, 2009

Being safe in a turbulent world

During a recent family gathering, my siblings and I were discussing crimes. I mentioned that a couple years ago, my city had a rash of home break ins where teenagers were getting into homes through unlocked sliding glass doors and taking purses from kitchen tables. Since I emphasized the unlocked doors, my brother commented "So are you saying they asked for it?" My response: "No one asks for that but I believe in being cautious."

What do I mean by being cautious? For example, placing a sturdy piece of wood or length of metal pipe to prevent the sliding door from opening more than a few inches is a good precaution to take to deter intruders and still get the air circulating in the home. If a person might be looking for a crime of opportunity (e.g., unlocked door and visible purse), making it more difficult to get access to the home may help prevent your home from being invaded.

What does this have to do with money aside from the obvious? Having a savings account and spending less than you earn is one way to be safer in a world determined to part you from your money. By playing defense with your earnings, putting away the extra and accumulating a stash of money over time, you can reduce and eliminate debt, cover unexpected emergency expenses and even support yourself in case of job loss or injury.

No one likes to consider the worst case scenario. Despite my own health scare a year ago, I still have not put together a will. However, I could cover my living expenses for at least 10 months if I became sick and unable to work. I also have disability insurance through my workplace that would cover part of my salary during my illness or injury.

By earning more than I spend and saving what I can, I have built up a cushion of money that can help me through many obstacles. While contemplating the loss of a job is no fun, I know I have some time before money gets critical, which is better than losing my job and wondering how I will pay all my bills next month.

Like keeping a length of wood in a sliding door to deter thieves, a savings account can alleviate some of the anxiety of financial emergencies or job loss. The risk is not eliminated as I could be searching for a job longer than my 10 months worth of savings, but I can minimize the effects of a turbulent job market (and reduce my stress) by having money to help me through any rough spots I encounter.

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