DIARY

Accidents Happen

I have always been the kind of person who worries a lot about money, to the point where it’s a preoccupation. Sure, a lot of this is because I’ve always had a job that comes along with significant uncertainty – I never know what the next year (or even the next month) of my life will look like, financially speaking – but still: for years and years (until pretty recently, actually), I made my life far more stressful than it had to be by putting off the decision to come up with an actual plan.

When things are going well – money’s coming in, no major unexpected expenses are popping up – it’s easy to sail along in a happy bubble of obliviousness; I know this first-hand, because I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out in that bubble. But then – inevitably – the bubble pops. And you find yourself in a world of pain.

As an example, I thought I’d tell a story I’m not sure I’ve ever touched upon here, even though I’ve certainly been asked about it plenty over the years. (Spoiler: it’s about my dog. But stay with me; I’m going somewhere with this.)

When I first started Ramshackle Glam and began posting photos of my friends, my family, and my one-eyed puppy, Lucy, I started getting comments and questions asking what had happened to Lucy’s eye. I sidestepped the questions because the real answer was that it was extremely painful to talk about, in part because what happened was sort of my fault (I’ll explain), and because at that age my skin was far too thin to let me open up commentary on a subject I was so sensitive about. But with all this lovely age and theoretical wisdom has come an understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and that the best thing you can do when you make one is acknowledge it, and then learn from it.

how women can easily take control of their financial security

So here’s what happened to Lucy (note: please don’t read this if you’re feeling squeamish, ok?). It was around noon on a weekday, and I was home alone working on an editing project when I decided I wanted an apple. Except I didn’t have any, so I decided to drive to the bodega located two blocks away (everyone in LA does this; it’s ridiculous and also completely automatic). I reversed out of my driveway, backed into the street, pushed the gearshift into drive – and heard a whine.

Many hours later, I discovered that Lucy had crawled through a hole under my backyard fence and had followed me out to my car before hiding underneath it, but when I heard that whine all I knew was that I had just hit my six-pound puppy. I’m absolutely certain that the world started moving in slow motion from that point on; I remember looking up and watching Lucy zooming towards the house, and somehow she ended up in the house and I ended up in the house, but I don’t remember opening the door. I definitely remember what she looked like when I found her behind my couch, because her left eye was sitting on her cheek (sorry). I think what happened next was that I ran into the street yelling “Somebody help me!” at a bunch of empty suburban houses, then somehow located the car keys that I’d dropped on the lawn and drove to the vet without getting into a car accident. Lucy went into surgery, and her eye was put back where it was supposed to go, and then a week or so later it came out again, and had to be removed completely.

This is a horrible story. It was a horrible moment in my life (and obviously in Lucy’s – and Francesca’s, because we were living together at the time this happened and because Lucy is our shared first child). But it was also horrible for another reason: because – and this is not a fun thing to admit – even as I was sitting in the waiting room at the vet, crying and wondering whether my dog would live, a thought was circling in my head that made me feel not just panicky, but ashamed:

How much was this going to cost me?

The answer ended up being about six thousand dollars. Six thousand dollars that, as a 26-year-old only-occasionally-working actress, I did not have, but had to come up with anyway. And because I’d never put aside any money in expectation of an incident like this, that one horrible, completely unforeseen moment left me spinning financially for the better part of a year. More immediately, however, it added panic about money to an already overwhelmingly emotional moment when finances should have been the last thing on my mind.

how women can easily take control of their financial security

The financial fitness worksheet you should probably take a look at.

The reality is that these unexpected expenses – home repairs, medical emergencies, pet accidents, car issues – happen to all of us, and they tend to happen more often than we’d think (and definitely more than we like). We don’t see these mini – or major – disasters coming. We have to prepare for them anyway.

So now that I sound sufficiently apocalyptic, let’s switch gears away from depressing, stomach-churning stories of dog eyeballs (the story ends with Lucy being totally fine and possibly the happiest little fluff that ever lived, btw), and focus on how to prevent you from going through something similar. The first step: go fill out THIS FINANCIAL FITNESS WORKSHEET OVER ON NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL. I know; the idea of looking at anything titled “Financial Fitness Worksheet” makes me want to fall asleep, too. It makes everyone want to fall asleep – which is why this one is structured to be both informative and fun. The next step: use the tips to help you set specific, achievable financial goals regardless of where your finances are at this exact moment. And don’t underestimate the value of meeting with a professional; Kendrick and I did this a few years ago to help us get on track, and it had an immediate and concrete impact on our spending choices.

I filled out the worksheet (which you can download yourself HERE) and based on my results I came up with the following goals. (Caveat: my results would have been VERY different in my twenties; the past couple of years have shocked me into being way more on top of my finances than I used to be.)

PERSONAL FINANCIAL GOALS

  • 1-2 years: Work towards relying less on my (unstable) income and more on Kendrick’s (stable) one for monthly expenses, allocating the majority of what I make to savings to cover income fluctuations, savings towards home improvement, and savings for our kids’ college accounts.
  • 3-10 years: Have sufficient income and/or savings to either send our children to private school, or to move to a better middle-school and high-school school district. A move to a slightly larger home or home expansion (a second level) are also medium-term goals.
  • 11+ years: Financial stability, which to me means living below our means (rather than right at the edge of them) so that we can allocate a set amount of monthly income towards college, retirement, and other large, long-term expenses.

So that’s me. I love this topic, as I’m sure you know by now – I think our culture is way too touchy about discussing money, and that the best thing we can do to secure our financial futures is to just confront them honestly and openly – and would love to hear any questions you have about my personal goals, or thoughts you have about your own.

how women can easily take control of their financial security

(Happy girl.)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Northwestern Mutual. The opinions and text are all mine. (Photos by Sue Hudelson.)

  • Christine Kron

    Never did I ever think a blogger I follow would have a sponsored post by the institution my father works for! Haha! Regardless, it’s important and I’m glad I had a Dad who was a financial planner – always be prepared! Smart post!

    • jordanreid

      ha! so funny. and thanks 🙂

  • Francesca

    Lucy. <3 <3 <3 <3

  • Jenn

    Ugh this is my life now. I was very poor growing up and it seems like no matter what I do, life always happens and I always fall behind. I worry about money so much that even when I’m doing okay financially, I worry out of habit. But I was laid off recently and went two weeks without working before I started my new job (luckily I had been looking). I’m afraid it will take me a year to catch back up from missing one paycheck!

    I was feeling like I was getting things back on track very recently when over the weekend, my sweet loving dog lost her damn mind and attacked another dog on our walk. They were both on leashes so I broke her away quickly but she did bite the dog’s belly. Luckily it was a small tear and didn’t even need stitches, but the vet bill was $300 and I told the owner I would pay it. And now I’m going to have to take her to a trainer so this never happens again (it was so weird – she never ever acts like that! – but I’m terrified it will become a habit for her),

    There have been so many times when I wasn’t prepared for some bad luck and had to scrounge for money and I always promise myself I won’t ever let it happen again, but I always do.

    • Beasliee

      That’s really rubbish about your dog. Try not to worry too much, it’ll agitate her and make it worse, perhaps?
      Everyone worries about money. It sounds like your are doing a good job given the circumstances. Just keep being sensible.
      It doesn’t hurt to be self-conscious but don’t be too hard on yourself. People are very secretive about money issues so don’t imagine for a millisecond that you’re the only one.

  • Beasliee

    My dad has always been a very attentive to family finances, which he records in a series of brown notebooks. It’s a bug I caught but I have a spreadsheet instead! I actually think saving and watching that pot grow can get a bit addictive.
    Also, I am not sure if you’ve seen this before, but it really resonated with me: https://thebillfold.com/a-story-of-a-fuck-off-fund-648401263659 I feel empowered to know that my job doesn’t have an infinite hold over me.
    PS. Glad Lucy turned out OK. Poor mite! I hope you always walk to the store now…. 😉

    • jordanreid

      that article is AMAZING. love it love it love it.

  • jordanreid

    not that this comment merits a response, but just to set you straight on that first point: shortly after I moved out to California my parents bought a small house in the valley because my grandmother was not well and was living alone down in Costa Mesa. the plan was to have me move into the house with my grandmother so that I could take care of her (while paying rent, obviously, because they could not afford to cover the mortgage themselves and also because I was an adult capable of paying rent). at the last minute she decided she didn’t want to move out of her own place, and then she passed away shortly afterwards. my parents were okay with holding onto the house as an investment property – they just sold it recently and I think they made a decent profit, but I don’t know the specifics – and so I stayed in the house and found a roommate whose rent payments, when added to my own, covered the mortgage payment. my parents did not pay my vet bill, and I wouldn’t have asked them to, because they have their own financial burdens, and their adult daughter, in my mind, shouldn’t be an additional one.