Down Sizing Part 2 – A Little Pruning

What would you do if all of a sudden your income was cut by more than half? This happened last week to a man named Henry who was completely blindsided by his company’s decision to start layoffs and downsize. He was called into a meeting and given the option to quit or to be demoted. The demotion meant that his salary would be decreased from around $140,000 to $50,000!! He has given so many years to the company and all of a sudden he’s back at the beginning. He chose to take the demotion and stay with the company, but he is going to face a very hard road ahead. Either he is going to need to down size his entire life, or he needs to start looking for a new job. But really, anywhere he goes he is going to be starting over. At this point, his only option is to down size.

So where do you start in the process of cutting back your expenses? It is such a difficult place to be in, and yet if you don’t act immediately, your next month’s expenses might land you under a landslide of debt. But the good news is, you don’t need nearly as much “stuff” as you have come to believe. It may seem radical to change your life, but remember you are saving your family’s future.

The first place you start is your budget. You should have every bill and every expense listed in your budget and this will make it very convenient to see how your numbers are adding up. So take your new salary, which for Henry is $50,000. He will want to take into account taxes and subtract them from his total and then divide that total by 12. His new monthly salary is probably around $3400 a month (I’m guessing because I don’t know his tax situation). So this is the number that he will want to work toward. Every number in his budget needs to be re-calculated to bring his monthly expenses under this number.

However there are some numbers that can’t immediately change like his house payment and related housing costs like gas and electricity and water. Automobile payments may be difficult to immediately change as well. Yet in this time of change, everything needs to be considered. If you can’t afford your car, then buy a second hand car and get out of that payment if you can. Re-evaluate your home. Yes, you may love your home, but at what cost? If you end up in bankruptcy, chances are you will lose your home long before then. It is so much better to be proactive and make the best choice for your family…

Which I have to interject and say that you absolutely need the understanding and support of your family in this endeavor. If you are married, your wife or husband needs to be right there with you to really make this succeed. The best way (in my opinion) to approach it is to be honest and hopeful with them. This is a challenging time, but you want to make the best decisions before the decisions are made for you. These decisions mean cutting back and being purposeful in many areas where you have had no previous limit. But the goal is a debt free life where you are free to be a blessing to your children and to many others while living within your means. The example that you will give your children in doing this will be an inheritance for the rest of their lives. There is honor in paying your bills, and there is honor in living within your means. If the “stuff” in your home is all built on a mountain of debt and pretense, then what is the message that you are giving to your children?

Now if you have little children, they obviously do not need to know too much. What they really need to know is that they are loved and that Mommy and Daddy and their Heavenly Father are taking care of them. You can involve them in praying for a new job or wisdom, but be so careful not to involve them in your fear. They are powerless in this situation and it is an unfair burden for them to carry that can really scar them if you place your fear on them. It is amazing how children adapt and they will be fine as long as they know that you are OK and that their family is OK.

I am going to stop here for now and continue this blog later, but I do just want to remind you that if you are in the process of down sizing your life that you are never alone in this. Ask the Lord for wisdom and don’t resent the process. It is all just stuff and there is a way through this, but it may take some ingenuity and also some tenacity to see it through. But don’t get discouraged. You are fighting against familiarity and sometimes against the culture, but you are still right in the middle of God’s hand and in the very center of His plan. And NO He did not plan evil or pain for you, but He always has a plan for our good and is always fighting to work the difficult things in our lives for good. Rest in the fact that God has a plan, and then yield to the fact that His amazing plan for good might just involve a little pruning.