When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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What Will You Do When Pookie Calls?

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Don’t act like I am the only one. What do you do when cousin Pookie calls? You know he(or she) is going to ask for some money. Do you just not answer the call?What’s the plan? You know that when Pookie needs money, that phone will keep ringing. Pookie is very diligent about asking for money, and the opposite of that when it comes to paying that money back. You know that your calls to Pookie about getting paid back will go unanswered, and you’ll be forced to just drop by. Yeah, I knew that I wasn’t the only one.

Unexpected expenses, especially when they are someone else’s, can create financial chaos for you, but you still love your cousins. The reality is, things happen, and you need to start by feeling good that you have the surplus income to be able to address emergencies. So, what will you do? Let me suggest that you should start by answering the call. Second, don’t give anyone any money that you can’t afford to ever see again. Third, don’t loan any money that you need. Last, budget for those calls from Pookie. Yep, I said it. You should include cousin Pookie in your budget.

Because unexpected expenses are a necessary part of everyone’s financial life, it should be a budget item. I suggest starting by deciding how big of a financial emergency you are willing to respond to, for yourself and anyone else. It is possible that your emergency financial threshold will be higher than your financial willingness to respond to someone else’s emergency. Anything beyond either of those maximum emergency numbers is a hard no. These numbers become your budget line item and the rationale for your response. Having this number will stop the momentum of the adrenaline associated with responding to a financial emergency. Any emergency that falls below those emergency financial thresholds is, yes (with an acceptable story). Most importantly, once you reach that threshold, you are finished responding to emergencies for this budget year.

It is financial chaos, normally in the form of financial emergencies, that tend to have the most significant impact on our ability to build wealth. Having clear thinking and limits on what financially constitutes an emergency that you are willing to consider can have the effect of bringing a bit of calm to the financial chaos. Absent any emergencies, in a plan to accumulate wealth, the math is easy. We love our cousins, but the only reason that Pookie calls you is because you have a plan, and thus resources to respond to emergencies. It is your job to make sure that you are, at least financially, the person that Pookie thinks of calling. You also need to remain the clear-thinking person that has successfully accumulated the resources to respond to financial emergencies. If Pookie thinks of you first in a financial emergency, you are probably doing something right financially.

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