An Extraordinary Life On An Ordinary Income Pt. 7 – Dealing With Disaster

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Typical Holiday Stress

The holidays are stressful for most. Find the perfect gift. Dealing with the stressors of fighting with family. Traveling out of time. Fighting with employers to get the holiday rush work done. If their employer even lets them take time off during the holidays. 

Make Your Own Holiday Traditions

My partner and I have our own stressors of dealing with family and “tradition” during the holiday. We love our families and care for them like no other, but as with most families, there is always family stress, especially around holidays. 

Back to holiday talk, this would be the first holiday time my partner and I would get to spend together in our four years together. Money and time are two big stressors in any relationship. Throw in long-distance and the potential for a stress storm increases tenfold. 

Remove The Distance, Increase The Extraordinary

My partner and I made our own traditions. Take out the distance and money and the only issue becomes time. Of course, money was still an issue, but you better believe we know how to make the ordinary, extraordinary. 

My Christmas tree and ornaments cost less than five dollars. I added some window clings for two dollars more. But these simple decorations added to spending time with the woman I love were enough for me. 

The Christmas Party

I didn’t get to take my partner to the Econome Conference, but I did get to make a few friends along the way. The creator, Diania, read my “review” about Econome and loved it. I got active in the Facebook group for Econome over the past month. Diania was kind enough to allow me to attend her private Christmas party. Since Cincinnati is only two hours away, we made the trip. My partner wasn’t feeling well, and the party started a little later, we ended up leaving a bit earlier. But we still had a great time. 

There wasn’t a disaster here, but the party is relevant later on. Talking to Diania and her partner (who also liked my article! thanks Brad!) I was able to be more confident in myself. I was bold enough to let Diania know I would love to attend the party. I asked for what I wanted. And I received it. 

Go Bold and Confident

These have been the hardest parts of 2020 and 2021 for me. It’s been hard for me to be confident in asking for big things that I want. I don’t like to feel like I am inconveniencing people or taking advantage. My partner and I are natural givers, and often go above and beyond helping others. Even if it means putting ourselves in a tough spot. So asking for something is a huge deal for us, on top of working on our own confidence issues. 

The Rest of The Week

There isn’t much to tell in the last week with my partner. We made the most of our time with our energy and my working from home schedule. Since I had a certain deadline for some of my work, I was stressed about spending time with her and balancing work. It was stressful and caused some tension. But we had a few long talks, and like always she boosted my confidence, made me feel loved and supported, helped me grow. She is helping me learn not to be so anxious with my initial reaction to stressors. 

Saying Goodbye, Disaster Strikes

We both had an odd feeling when I was getting ready to take my partner to the airport. She received a text saying her flight was delayed. So we spent a little more time together and ate leftovers. She got another text saying her flight was no longer delayed. That definitely set off my reaction radar. That’s not good. 

The Premonition

Her first flight was booked. On her trip here, the airline was able to accommodate her and get her a comfortable seat. She sent me a message saying they couldn’t. She said she was afraid of getting stuck. At least if she was stuck at the Columbus airport I was only ten minutes away. 

Fast forward and she landed in Dallas. The flight was delayed (after being delayed once, then on time, then back to delayed). Chaos ensued and she started feeling sick. But she boarded the plane. Things were starting to go well…or so we thought.

Canceled

I got the text that the flight was canceled. My heart SANK. I could feel panic start to sink in. She was stranded in Dallas. Nothing I could do to help, but try to keep her calm amidst the chaos. After getting off the plane, we had to come up with an action plan. But what could we do? Both of us were tired and emotionally exhausted, in hunger for her and in a strange place where she could pass out due to stress and I had a hard time keeping my composure. 

She kept waiting for her bags to be unloaded from the plane. The last shuttle to the comped hotel was canceled. She felt lost and screwed over. How the hell was I supposed to remain calm knowing how I would’ve felt at that moment? Well luckily, I have amazing friends from Twitter who helped keep me calm. Even though those near her couldn’t directly help, I was able to remain calm enough to keep her calm. 

Enhance Your Calm

While trying to figure out the best solution to the problem, I could tell the frustration and exhaustion were kicking in. My partner repeated several times that she didn’t have her last bag. I know that she had important things in it (probably the bag with her medication) and knew she was scared and alone in an unfamiliar place. I calmly let her know that I was aware she didn’t have her last bag. She apologized and I told her I understand and that I didn’t take it personally. 

After hours of asking the desk and waiting, she finally got her bags. Since she couldn’t get to the comped hotel, I called the hotel with a 24-hour shuttle service. They had rooms available and were able to pick her up. 

Emergency Funds To The Rescue!

On the way to the hotel, I tried calling and reserving a room for her to ease her mind. I was told to go online and book through a portal site. I panicked internally because it wouldn’t allow me to and she would need my credit card if I booked for her online. Shit! 

Well, she arrived at the hotel. The worst-case scenario was they would shuttle her back to the airport and we would have to find another hotel at midnight (1 am for me in Eastern time). Finally, we caught a break and she was able to book a room using her debit card. I just had to transfer funds to her to pay for the hotel.

The Budget Lights The Way

 Luckily, I had enough in the emergency fund to cover it. I use a budgeting tool called You Need A Budget (or YNAB for short). YNAB allows me to look at my budget quickly and know what my budget is for different things, like this emergency!

Not All of Us Are That Fortunate

My partner had no idea what to do if I was unable to help her. If I didn’t have an emergency fund, would she have had to be transferred back to the airport? Would she have to sleep at the airport, with her chronic pain and exhaustion keeping her up all night? So many questions. 

I am fortunate in the position that I have been saving for years. Although I may feel behind in the Financial Independence community, I’m still in a very fortunate position to help her. What about those at the airport who couldn’t afford the hotel? What if they were still waiting on bags and their only option was the comped hotel and unable to use the shuttle? What if they couldn’t afford a rideshare service? What if?

I Had A Lot of Help

Being able to help my partner didn’t come from me bootstrapping or being “self-made.” I had a level of privilege that others may not have. I had two married parents throughout my life. I had my undergraduate degree paid for. I had been able to take on student loans for my MBA. My MBA helped me land my current job and raise my pay to be in the position I am now. Consistently saving and living below my means helped me to save an emergency fund. 

Helping my partner has been challenging. I have tried to help her as much as I can. Others have helped tremendously. I wouldn’t have the emergency fund I have today without generosity. My entire recent emergency fund was gifted to me by a friend. My partner’s plane ticket was paid for by someone’s generosity. My Econome ticket was paid for by someone’s generosity. I want to be able to share that generosity with others who may be in a similar situation. I want to pay it forward.

Emergency Funds Are For Disasters

As an anxious person, I don’t handle stress well. Add the stress of money on top of it and who could handle it well? As I mentioned early, the emergency fund saved the day. Although money was part of the issue, what really helped us in dealing with disaster was remaining calm and thinking things through.

Having an emergency fund and knowing I could cover hotel and food expenses for my partner was a relief. If we could get the transportation issue fixed then everything would be fine. Luckily, we stayed calm, talked things out, and had others in our network reassuring us. An emergency fund of money is great, but an emergency fund for support added is even better. 

Do You Have Emergency Funds, Plans & Support?

Do you have an emergency plan? Do you have emergency support? How would you deal with a disaster to live extraordinarily?

Check out other posts in this series: An Extraordinary Life On An Ordinary Income