Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong
We have all had it happen. It seems like we are staying ahead of life's challenges and perhaps even getting ahead when suddenly, "Murphy" knocks on our door. It seems like when he arrives, his bags are always filled with trouble.
Your car which had been working beautifully sputters and smokes, if it starts at all, once Murphy has borrowed it. The bathroom floods, there's a fire in your kitchen, your furnace and/or air conditioner breaks, your child breaks their leg (after Murphy suggested that they ski down the garage roof) and your cat gets sick. Sometimes Murphy likes to make things very exciting and decides that you need a break so he thoughtfully arranges it so you do not have to go to work due to injury, illness or job loss. Hmm...
While we have all been visited by Murphy a time or two, or three or four or five or... more, most of us live our lives blissfully pretending that Murphy has forgotten our address and will never bother er... visiti us again. I've got news for you. Unlike me, Murphy has a good memory. If you move and leave no forwarding address you can be sure that he will still have no trouble finding you and when he does, he will be eager to spend a lot of time with you. Oh goody!
If you were to ask most Americans about their "emergency fund", they would probably do one of two things. They would either whip out a credit card and/or they would tell you that they would borrow from their retirement plan. Of course we know that these things have hefty penalties involved if you cannot pay them back right away. Of course, a few people might say they would get a "pay day loan" which is extremely expensive.
The idea of saving up for "a rainy day" or having an emergency fund seems to be an out-dated or even foreign idea nowadays. I mean, why have an emergency fund when you can charge your emergency for an average APR of 18%? Hmm...
This week my husband and I met with 10 people who are taking a class on finances which will be meeting in our home for nine weeks. Their "mission" is to do a quick-start budget over the next week and set aside $1,000.00 for an emergency fund ($500.00 if their household income is less than $20,000 a year) as soon as possible. Now for some people that is no big deal but other people will always look at us with a shocked expression and big staring eyes, especially when they realize they cannot borrow the $1,000.00 either. That's when we tell them how we got ours.
I had just been put on a medical leave of absence by my employer. Note that I said my employer put me on leave. We were facing a 60% loss of income and we were being told to try to scrape together $1,000.00 for an emergency fund. Uh... we were in an emergency!
As a group we had been told to cut expenses, sell something, take on another job, do anything to raise that money ASAP. My husband and I were rather discouraged on our way home. Our take-home income, even with my husband doing freelance work on top of his regular job was not enough to cover all of our expenses. We had cut things as much as we possibly could at the moment. We had purged things when we had moved a couple of years before and the things we could get rid of that had any value... well... we had actually just given those away to the pastor of an inner-city mission several months before. This assignment seemed impossible.
I remember that we prayed and asked God to help us. We were willing to do the hard work to set our house in order but we just didn't know how we would do it. That's when my husband got a phone call.
A dear friend of ours had been borrowing some professional video equipment he was not using anymore for her work. She called him up out of the blue and asked to purchase it. She would pay him $1,000.00 for it. Could he pick up the check tomorrow?
That is not the whole story though. You see, our friend knew nothing about our needing to set aside $1,000.00 for an emergency fund. When my husband arrived, he folded the check and put it in his billfold. Our friend and her husband stopped him. They insisted that he look at the check and as he did she said, "God told me that I was to also include the tithe in the amount I paid you. He told me that you needed to net $1,000.00 after you paid the tithe."
My husband told me that his hands shook when she said that and he nearly broke down as he told them the story about our emergency fund. How they rejoiced that God had allowed them to be a part of that!
Since that time, Murphy has come knocking at our door. Actually, he has tried to break in quite a bit since my husband lost his job last December. The thing we have noticed though, is that Murphy really, really hates a house where there is an emergency fund. I think there is something in the air or the expression on your face. Instead of it being fearful, you look confident and Murphy does not like that one bit. Feeling a bit sick to his stomach, he backs up off your porch and decides to head elsewhere to find his next victim.
Photo Credit: Francesco Santalucia / Stockfresh