Money Matters: Out of Control
Almost 6 years ago, Gretchen and I took the plunge into home ownership. We love our home and I think it feels pretty much the same about us. But, its had its times when it hasn’t been real friendly on our wallets (similar to our relationship with our beloved ’96 Saturn SL1, which you’ve heard so much about).
This month was one of those times.
I mentioned in a previous post that no matter how well you design a budget, there will be those stretches where it rains and then it pours, leading to a string of busted budgets. This is life and shouldn’t send us into a frenzy (although it sometimes does). In the Kingsley household, it’s been raining for a few months. This month it poured.
We had to replace our air conditioner 5 years ago (the summer after moving in). This summer we were feeling like it just wasn’t quite keeping up like it should. Finally, we has someone come out to take a look. It turns out that the coil was poorly designed and had eroded and needed replaced. Fortunately, we had a warranty for the coil…which had expired 18 days before that.
We have always had the unit serviced and it turns out that last year, the person who serviced it had charged it with freon without doing the required due diligence of figuring out the cause of the leak. Had he done so, the coil would have been replaced under warranty. So at least we have some recourse…accept for that the company that installed it and serviced it through last summer went out of business last summer.
$1300 later, our air conditioner is running great and our emergency savings account is enjoying its new, trim physique. The irony with this situation is that we did everything right. We purchased a quality air conditioner unit (good name brand, wrong year to buy). We had it serviced annually (a corner that many people cut). We sucked it up and called someone to come out when we felt like something just wasn’t quite right. We practiced sound home ownership principles.
It’s funny because our natural human tendency in situations like this is to wallow in the great wrong that the universe has inflicted upon us. The fact of the matter, however, is that there’s just nothing you can do. In fact, the only choice you actually do have in these situations is the outlook that you will adopt. The importance of that choice should never be overlooked.
Our reaction to situations and scenarios that are beyond our control will greatly impact our own quality of life as well as the way that our children learn to process the realities of life. As gratifying as wallowing in self-pity and frustration feels in the moment, the long-term fruit is pessimism, cynicism, frustration and paralysis. The bottom line is that lingering in what could or should have been is a practice in utter futility.
So your air conditioning unit was poorly designed and cost you big 18 days after the expiration of the warranty because the service man who should have fixed it a year ago didn’t and went out of business. Better get over it ’cause it happened whether you like it or not.
We could throw up our hands and declare that all is vanity and there is no benefit in trying to do things the right way. In doing so we would be declaring to all that human choice and action is of no consequence to the outcomes we experience. This is a truly depressing outlook to even entertain, as it drains all motivation and energy out of engaging life and tackling challenges. Life becomes a practice in blaming everything on fate or dumb luck and discarding responsibility.
Obviously, no one reading this would consciously and deliberately agree with this outlook or systematically teach it. The problem is that our actions sometimes betray this destructive outlook at some level of our subconscience. This will absolutely rub off on those around us, especially our children. However, it will also teach our kids a lot if we choose to confront this natural reaction and proactively look to control the things that we do have power over — in this case, our response to the situation.
Gretchen and I have chosen to find some humor in the ironies of the event and then pretty well leave it and move on. Events like this really don’t merit a whole lot of analyzing or scrutiny. They are what they are and our energy is better spent continuing to live as proactively and responsibly as possible.
One philosophy that I have adopted is that responsibility and proactiveness are rewarded in the long haul. I don’t let the hiccups derail this philosophy because, frankly, I am unwilling to accept that things could be any other way.
Experiences like ours with the air conditioner really have more potential for a positive impact than the seemingly obvious negative one. By choosing to side with a belief in the ultimate impact of responsibility in the face of seemingly contrary evidence, this belief is all the more deeply ingrained in us and our family, meaning that it will serve us even more loyally in the future. This is worth more than money.
How do you respond when things get out of control?
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