The East Coast is now recovering and digging out from one of the worst blizzards it has seen in years. In the MD/DC/VA area we got the brunt of it, so digging out has been a process for sure.
While being at home with my family for days was fun, cabin fever started to set in after a while, especially with my 3 year old son. He begged us to take him to the nearby park which was covered in snow and he absolutely loved it!
It was an interesting and sometimes character building experience trying to dig ourselves out. I saw the spectrum of humanity out there. From neighbors helping each other shovel out of their driveways to guys taking selfies of themselves in their clean driveways and not lifting a finger to help others in need right next door.
Shoveling snow is kind of a cathartic experience because things are very quiet and still all around. And all you’re left with is your thoughts while repetitively shoveling and pushing snow around.
In between thinking about my mortality and wondering if we had enough eggs to last the next few days, I did draw some financial analogies related to the blizzard:
1. Debt keeps you from moving forward
Seeing the magnitude of the storm when it was finished and how helpless everything looked, I realized that this is what debt can do to your financial life. If you have debt lying around all around you, it becomes very difficult to just take a step towards financial freedom.
Once you can stop the debt from piling on, the next action step should be to get rid of that crushing debt so you can actually move on and advance with your life. Which brings me to my next realization:
2. Large goals are best completed in stages
Once I got my gear on and opened the door to take a look outside, it was incredible to see how much snow there was. My Corolla was almost completely covered and the mounds of snow in the driveway and on the sidewalk were enormous. I thought to myself that we’re never going to be able to get out of this.
But once I started working, I just made a goal to clear off certain sections and take breaks every so often. Before I knew it, I had most of the driveway clean that day and two days later the car is able to get out and the sidewalk is passable.
This concept can be applied to pretty much anything in life, be it paying off debt or starting a new business. The final goal can seem daunting and even unattainable at first, but if you break it up into smaller goals and work on them consistently, the end goal will become much clearer.
3. Focus on your own situation and don’t keep up with the Joneses
It’s interesting to see how differently people approach shoveling. Some perfectly healthy people can’t be bothered and will hire somebody to clean. Some people are out during the storm itself and to get a head start. And some people just wait until the plows come by to get started.
People also have different levels of preparation. Some are using their rickety old shovels that have lasted them for years. Others are eager to start up their brand new snowblowers. Everyone has different situations but my philosophy is to do what you can with your situation and help those who need it.
If you were unprepared for this storm, just do what you can and prepare better for the next storm. Financially, constantly having your eyes towards those who have more will just make you feel worse and affect how you deal with your current situation.
4. Having a partner helps. A LOT.
Shoveling snow by yourself is repetitive, boring and time consuming. I noticed when I had one or two more people helping, all with the same goal, things were just more fun and work got done more effectively. Even if one of the other people was my 3 year old son with a sand shovel, it was still fun having him out there.
In the same way, I think it’s important to have a partner when it comes to your finances. This could be an accountability partner, a spouse who is on the same page or just a friend who enjoys talking about finances (I’m taking applications if you’re looking for one.)
There’s a nice synergy that is created when you’re working with someone towards the same goal. You feed off of each other and new ideas can be found during the journey.
Luckily the forecast is calling for temperatures to be in the mid 40’s this week, so hopefully we will have a lot less snow to contend with this time next week.
Now only if there was an act of God that could evaporate everyone’s student loan debt…