Last week our extended family marked the 90th birthday of our eldest family member. We all drove across the state to join in the celebration of the day.
As part of the dinner, I made center pieces from wine bottles, with special labels, one for each decade of the birthday girl’s life. In them, I was going to place live daffodils.
We have 6 acres of land and my spouse (with a bit of help from me) has, over the years, planted tens of thousands of daffodil bulbs. Usually by the third week of March, the first bloom is on. These were the live daffodils I was planning to use.
This year we had several deep, early spring snow storms, causing the bloom to slow. On the weekend of the party, I hiked through the remaining snow, looking for any flowers that had even a twinkle of yellow. I cut each one gently to bring in and try to save. Most of the bud stems were bent over and laying on the ground. They were all frozen solid.
Hoping to at least present our nonagenarian with a small bouquet, I racked my brain looking for a way to save the cut, but frozen flowers. At last, I decided to place the stems in a 9 x 12 baking pan, filled with water and put the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours. Later that day, I got the pan out and put the flowers into a tall vase, to provide stem support. Imagine my delight when I saw the buds starting to open that evening!
It snowed again, a foot or so, the day after the party. When we got back home, both my husband and I noted that we would not be getting and flowers from the plants that usually bloom in March. We thought the snow and freezing weather had ruined them for good. The situation looked hopeless.
Much to our surprise, the day after the snow melted, we saw the flower stems outside standing tall and the buds intact! We found that Mother Nature had renewed the vigor of the first blooming flowers.
Your finances are a lot like those flowers. Back in 2008 and 2009, our broker statements looked pretty beat up with lots of losses. But what goes down usually goes up, and ours has. We, like Mother Nature, persisted in our holdings and our belief that the companies we held were still viable and strong. We figured that their share prices would stand up and bud again, and they did.
If your finances are laying over on the ground, like those frozen stems, you may think they are dead and will never amount to anything. You may be looking up from the bottom of a deep well of debt, thinking, how will the stems of my money ever renew themselves. If you persist in living on less that what you earn, saving the extra and investing it when the time comes, your finances will perk up.
Take a look at the personal finance blogs on the internet – there are many stories of heros and heroines overcoming their debts and other financial struggles to move into positive net worth territory and some even into a net worth that surpassed their expectations.
Derek, from Life and My Finances did it. His about page tells the story:
“When I started this website, I had about $18,000 worth of debt,but I have since buckled down and paid off every penny (it took about 14 months)! It sure was a struggle sometimes, but I continued to put all of my discretionary income toward the debts every month. Some months, I was only able to put $100 toward the debt, and other months, I could afford write a $3,000 check. But, most importantly, IT HAPPENED! I am now debt free, and I would love to share with you how I did it.”
Glenn at Free From Broke shares his story too:
Back in the day, I worked paycheck to paycheck trying to get the bills paid and making sure I didn’t pay my credit card bills late. I was thousands in debt and had no real idea how the charges added up.
I realized that paying most of my check to credit card companies then hoping I had enough to get by until the next paycheck was no way to live.
I made changes. I reigned in my spending. I took my job seriously. I contributed to my 401(k) At one point I even moved back with my parents to get my debts paid off.
Know what? It worked! I was able to do a “do-over” and start my finances over the right way.
I could point out more, but you get the picture. Just because your flowers are frozen doesn’t mean they won’t renew – if you persist. Even if your situation looks hopeless, you can experience renewal.
If you are a financial victor, overcoming odds, getting out of bankruptcy, out of debt or growing your finances, share your story in the comments!