In April 2018 I was a presenter at the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association annual meeting where my topic of discussion was running a debt-free business. One of the key points I stressed to the attendees is that you must prepare for the worst; you must be ready when life shifts because it will shift. Shift indeed.
Little did I know as I spoke in April that I would be put to the task by June. June 1st, after going to the doctors for months with no diagnosis of his ailments, my husband was admitted to the emergency room with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) with monosomy 7. As I’m sure some of you wonderful people have experienced in your lives, my life stopped in its track.
So many frantic thoughts! Will my husband live? It’s summer; who will take care of the kids while I’m at the hospital? When will we sleep, eat, cry…breathe? Oh, my goodness, we have to breathe! When will we have time for that? And the business, who will run the business? The team is more than capable. What will I tell our customers??? Well, they’re wonderful, so they all will understand and will stick by me. But can I tell those of you who haven’t been in a life-altering situation, a serious health diagnosis is a logistical nightmare.
It’s now the end of August, and after a tough battle, my wonderful husband is in remission of this chemo-resistant form of leukemia. He is currently getting ready for a bone marrow transplant, on the road to a full recovery. The road, however, is l-o-n-g, and he needs 24/7 care now and will again for 100 days after the transplant.
I spread this news, not for pity sake, but to urge you all to GET READY! If my husband and I didn’t go through the difficulties of freeing ourselves from the bondage of debt and didn’t set up our emergency funds, both at home and in the business, instead of being at home and caring for the most important people in my life, I would be scrambling for deadlines and trying to keep an exhausting pace of work, doctor visits, transcript deadlines, kids’ homework, household duties and my husdand’s health.
I’ve absorbed and internalized every lesson I possibly can about the proper handling of money from Dave Ramsey (just Google him), who repeats with regularity, “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” The very last thing I would ever want to do would be to compound an emergency like this by making the situation worse by having to take a loan or use credit cards to survive.
I remember relating my best friend’s story while speaking at PCRA this year about how she was diagnosed with cancer and wouldn’t recover from it, all the while her husband had to work. They were together 45 years…the absolute love of his life… and he had to be somewhere other than by her side, for money. For money.
I’m so grateful to have learned the debt-free lifestyle before tragedy struck our house. All that we have been through, the one thing we don’t have to worry about is money. Money is essential to every part of our lives. If you aren’t prepared for life to take a turn, get ready. It’s just like getting a transcript done; you have a deadline. You may not know when that deadline is, but it could be as close as two months away, just like mine.
More importantly than money, surround yourselves with good, caring people. Money aside, our circle of family, friends, and church has carried us to this point with prayer, encouragement and practical help. It is for them that we are most grateful.
Constance Lee, RPR, CSR(IL), Realtime Systems Administrator
Constance Lee & Company