This article was originally published on Tiny Buddha by Ann Davis
“If a person gets his attitude towards money straight, then it will help strengthen out almost every other area in his life.” ~Billy Graham
To pursue financial security or your dream …
You’re in conflict, right?
I know because I’ve been there myself.
People often tell us that money isn’t everything, so we assume we can sacrifice money to pursue our dreams. Somehow it will work out. At least that’s what I thought.
What do you think about money? Is it everything or not?
I quit my job when I got married. My husband was a pastor in a small rural community in Vermont, and my dream was to help those in need and work with him in the mission field.
I helped serve in the community soup kitchen that ministered to those afflicted by addiction. Sometimes I worked in the food bank, and instead of getting paid in cash, they donated canned meat to the organization we were affiliated with.
It was work that fulfilled my soul but not my wallet.
Though I’ve been broke before and came out on top, I was suspicious we wouldn’t survive on one salary as a family.
My husband reassured me money wasn’t everything and we’d be okay.
Our budget was tight. We lived a simple life. We ate donated food, most of which was boxed and canned.
I longed for homemade food with fresh produce, but we couldn’t afford it. Instead, we tweaked the boxed and canned food as best as we could to make it taste better. I learned that if I added a different spice to the same meal each time I cooked, it tasted better.
We also learned to make our own 1% milk. We bought 2% milk, divided it into halves and filled each half with water. We didn’t care about the nutritional value as much as how far the milk would stretch.
We were surviving, but when you’re as broke as we were, one small thing can turn your world upside down.
We didn’t have health insurance, but I wasn’t bothered by it because I was healthy. Or so I thought.
I had a cavity that had never been a problem for years until it woke me up in the middle of the night and made me scream in pain. Talk of the world turning upside down. We couldn’t afford a dentist. And the pennies in the jar weren’t enough to afford the smallest container of Tylenol.
That is when I knew something had to change.
Living in rural areas has its downside regarding jobs. At least I didn’t get one.
A friend of mine knew how good I was with children and asked if I could watch her kids after school until she got home. I took her up on the offer.
This offer was a win because I still helped with the mission work in the morning, and I got paid for nanny work in the evenings. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
But, here is what I learned from the painful reality of becoming broke in the pursuit of dreams, and how to survive:
1. Follow your instinct
I should have kept my job. Deep down I knew we wouldn’t survive on one salary, but I went ahead and quit. At least we should have first identified how much money we truly needed as a family before I quit.
Do you have a constant battle in your mind, one side telling you to quit and the other telling you to suck it up? Follow your instinct, but remember that if you chose to quit without a savings account, the bills will still roll in.
If your gut is telling you that quitting feels risky, be creative and find a way to pursue your dream while still maintaining your financial stability.
2. Honor friendship
Sometimes we assume our BFFs knows what we’re going through, so we expect them to help. But in reality, they have no clue about how much we’re hurting.
Confide in your trusted friends about what you’re going through — you’ll be surprised by the help you’ll receive.
We sure wouldn’t have survived without friends. I called a friend when the toothache invaded and explained to her our money situation. She bought the largest container of Tylenol and paid the dentist fee.
There is no shame in asking friends for help when we really need it. But don’t be a mooch. One day you can return the favor or pay it forward.
3. Use your strength
We all have something unique within. We learned through experience, formal and informal education, or job experience. Yet we don’t utilize that talent.
What are you really good at? What comes naturally to you? How can you use that skill to help you survive when you’re in a financial bind?
When my friend suggested I watch her children after school, I took up the offer and loved it. The kids loved sewing and knitting. I used my teaching experience to implement the activities.
4. Refuse to settle
Are you in a tough spot and feel like you have no way out? We’ve all been there.
But don’t settle. Know that you deserve more. Settling can block your mind from seeing when new opportunities arise.
I told everyone I came across how poor we were and that I was okay with it because we were doing good work. But deep down inside, I wasn’t okay.
I longed for things I couldn’t afford, like a nice, warm winter coat. But the most unbearable parts were the things I couldn’t provide for my son.
For example, he didn’t even bother to tell us about the cookie exchange at school because he knew we couldn’t afford to contribute. He told his teacher his parents were always broke, so the teacher had other kids donate cookies to him.
It’s okay to experience being broke, but believe that you will find a way to change your situation. The more you believe, the more open you’ll be to potential opportunities.
5. Take consistent action
Does your dream seem difficult to achieve? Is money holding you back? What can you do to bring you closer to it?
Be patient and consistence with yourself. Slowly and steadily work toward it.
You don’t have to achieve it overnight. Look at how long runners take to practice before they can win.
I slowly and steadily continued to pursue my dream while taking care of my financial responsibilities.
Trust me; you can pursue your dream slowly and still take care of yourself financially.
6. Create an emergency fund
An emergency fund will save you on a rainy day.
Start saving whatever you’re able to, no matter how little. Lets say you tuck away $ 10 weekly that adds up to $ 520 a year.
That right there will make you giddy on a rainy day.
If we had money saved my toothache wouldn’t have turned our world upside down. If you don’t have a financial cushion, wait to pursue your dreams until you do.
Take action and follow your dreams while protecting yourself financially.
Because you don’t want to look back and regret that you followed your dream and had no money to spend.
But don’t let opportunities beneficial to your dreams pass by.
Believe in yourself, and call your own shots regarding your dream and money.
Slowly and steadily start working toward your dream.
What steps are you taking today to survive your financial struggles and pursue your dream?