Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

A B C’s of Emergency Personal Finance First Aid

Can the principles of Emergency First Aid be relevant to personal finance? Hell yes! And how is that you ask?

(Immediate side note: I challenge everyone to find something I can’t relate to personal finance!)

The principles apply because in Emergency First Aid, the goal is to keep things simple, and literally not make the situation worse.

Disclosure: I’m not a medical professional. I’m not a Emergency First Aid professional. Using this post as your sole foundation for Emergency First Aid is like me using the real Emergency First Aid class to practise like Dr. House. Furthermore, the specifics of Emergency First Aid will vary depending on where you are and what your skills and training are. This is not a real first aid course, it’s an application of emergency first aid principles to personal finance. 

Now that that’s out of the way (seriously, call 911 or your equivalent if there’s a real medical emergency!!), here’s a rundown of the A B C’s of Emergency First Aid (in my province):

  1. Airway
  2. Breathing
  3. Circulation (meaning blood)

And the corresponding A B C’s of Emergency Financial First Aid:

  1. Assess
  2. Budget
  3. Commit

The nice thing about these three things is that they’re a universal plan you can follow under any circumstance; the A B C’s of emergency finance first aid is a thought-process aid for you to be able to take a step back, breathe, and get a level head.

Just realized that you have a mountain of debt and you don’t know how to deal with it? Think A B C’s! Had a crazy unexpected expense pop up that you’re not sure you can handle? A B C’s! Food allotment fund not going to stretch to the end of the month? One guess… A B C’s!

ASSESS

The first thing you do when you realize there’s a bad situation around, is assess. Assess your surroundings, assess the environment, assess and gather all the information you can to provide you with as much knowledge as you can get.

  • What’s happening?
  • How did this happen?
  • Will it happen again soon? In the near future?
  • Can I fix this immediately?
  • What other things in my life does this impact?

What happened. That’s the first thing you need to figure out, because that’ll lead you down the rabbit hole of figuring out all the other questions. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as: I forgot to pay my credit card. Or, I’m late with rent. Or, the teller’s telling me I have insufficient funds.

How did this happen? Have you been so busy you’ve just forgotten what day it is? If so, will it happen again in the future? Can you prevent it from happening again in the future? Probably. Can you fix it immediately? Likely, if you use e-transfers (in the case of late rent).

What other things does this impact? In the case of late rent, it might be an annoyed landlord or something like a late payment charge. I would also feel like my integrity was compromised, and would want to clear things up with said landlord. Everyone makes mistakes – I would 99% of the time recommend owning up to that mistake.

So, assess the situation. Figure out what went wrong, and if you’re going to be able to fix it or not.

BUDGET

Thought budgets were just for the $$$? You also need to budget for:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • Resources and tools

Budget isn’t just a monetary framework when you’re talking about personal finance. I think budgets get weighed down with their conventional definition – just like my ethos of raggedly rich is a mutiny on convention, we’re going to throw the word budget on that bandwagon too.

Next to money, I find that time and energy are the biggest demands for budget. Budgeting is essential for dealing with whatever problem you have and ensuring its condition doesn’t worsen (or, that the degradation of the condition is controlled; or that its degradation happens with awareness). Budgeting you resources (be that those you have, or those you’ll need to obtain) will give you a realistic outlook on how you can restore the situation.

As an emergency first aid responder to your finances, the goal isn’t necessarily to immediately fix the problem. It’s to prevent it from getting worse, and to understand what’s happening and why.

Establishing a budget for your time, energy, and resource is just as important as establishing one for your finances. And it doesn’t have to be perfect – it doesn’t have to do anything other than keep you alive for long enough, and stable enough, to be able to .

Then you’ll be able to put on your MD hat (or, let’s face it, wikiMD hat, for those of us who aren’t a Physician on FIRE ) and

Establishing a budget for your time, energy, and resource is just as important as establishing one for your finances.

COMMIT

Once you’ve assessed the situation and it’s ramifications, and established a preliminary budget for money, time, and resources, then you can begin your commitment to rectifying the situation.

You know what went wrong. You know what it affected. You know how it’ll impact your future, and you know how to fix it.

You’ve established a budget for your money, for your time, and for your resources – and these three budgets are going to help you keep your head over water for long enough to either consult professionals, do your own research, or make a more detailed plan of action.

Stopping the bleeding isn’t enough. Bringing someone back from unconsciousness isn’t enough. If you just stick to A and B, you run the risk of treating the symptoms, instead of resolving the problem.

Commitment is followthrough. Commitment is belief in yourself; it’s the determination to overcome, and the relentless pursuance of that picture you see at the end of your story.

Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. SHIT happens. But keep a cool head, be smart, keep it simple. Start from the basics – figure out what went wrong, what you need to do. Figure out how to budget your time, energy, and resources to do it. And commit to making it happen; emergency first aid is done when the Emergency Medical Services arrive and cart the causality off to the hospital, so I guess that’s where the similarities end.

I recently took my Emergency First Aid CPR/AED class, and the instructor told a story of a lady who was on a train when a stranger fell unconscious and stopped breathing. The lady did CPR this stranger for FIFTY EIGHT MINUTES. Because the emergency brake on the train was pulled between stops, it took emergency services 60 minutes to get there; but this lady only performed CPR for 58 minutes. After nearly an hour of administering CPR, this woman came back to life. She was understandably super confused and overwhelmed by this stranger all up in her space.

58 minutes. That’s some fucking commitment there. That’s why you don’t give up – because you just never know. And if there is no equivalent of EMS in personal finances, then you’re never done, because if you assess, budget, and commit – eventually, you’re going to come back to life. It might take a little longer than 58 minutes, but it IS going to happen. So don’t give up. Don’t panic, don’t get overwhelmed, don’t get crazy. Keep it simple. Stick to the basics. Use your common sense. You do that, and you’re going to be fine.

Do you guys agree? Or does this just sound like a pile of hoo-haw to you?

 

8 Comments

  1. I love this! Haha, great analogy! I think you are spot on, it took an awareness for me to realize that I needed to be financially savvy (“Assess”), followed by getting my financial ducks in a row (“Budget”), and now I’m just sticking with it (“Commit”)!

  2. I was never a medical professional but I did serve on a plant medical response team years ago and was privileged to bring a clinically dead co-worker back to life via CPR after he was exposed to toxic gas. Nothing quite so scary at the time and nothing quite so rewarding later than to know someone is alive because you acted when needed. I think what you are doing is just like that. Financial ruin is life threatening and you are acting to reduce/prevent it. That’s admirable!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 5, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      That gives me the shivers. Kudos to you, I’m sure that person’s pretty grateful you stepped up for them. Life is just crazy. The best we can do is our best, and hope it works out well more often than it doesn’t : )

  3. Okay, I totally read “assess” as “asses” the first three times I saw it haha…

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 6, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Aahahaa – I had to check that a couple times to make sure I wasn’t making the same terrible mistake… 😛

  4. Ahhh I love it!!! You clever little minx you. Let’s do D to Z hahaha. Omg! Do it hahaha. Z for um… Zillow should only be used to ball park, not calculate.

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