The Best Laid Plans Meet Life’s Problems

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Woman putting out a fire

Have you read the news lately?  Earthquakes, storms, big fires all make life seem a bit precarious, to say the least.  Then there are the what-ifs–what if the stock market tanks?  What if one of us gets really sick?  What if the reverse mortgage forecloses on us?  And to top it all off, there’s always someone who is busily calculating the End of the World.  What  will become of my carefully crafted plan when it meets a big problem?

Good news

First of all, just because Yellowstone has blown up in the past million years doesn’t mean we are losing our world next Tuesday.  And if an asteroid hits the earth, it may be more of a Tunguska strike than the one the ended the dinosaurs.  These things are out of our control.  They are also highly unlikely, so why worry?

We do have some control over what we do to prepare for an emergency.  It’s a good idea to know how to evacuate if you live in areas where flooding or fire is a known problem.  Up here in the woods, we have gradually refitted and stocked for long power outages.  We have too many trees near the power lines.

We also can act so that emergencies are less likely.  A few years back we had a clearcut on the hill above us.  The logs were placed down near the highway to be picked up, but they didn’t get taken before a big rainstorm hit.  The logs diverted water such that the resulting stream cut across the dirt road with a six-foot-deep gully.  That same storm washed out half the highway in several places.  Wood no longer gets stacked there.

We can reality-check a lot of the hazards we hear about.  Remember when the Mayan calendar was running out and the world was supposed to end?  As you may recall, it didn’t.  Someone else evidently made a valid enough calendar to keep generating life for the world.  Problem solved.

Planning helps us stay in control

So I continue to plan because I feel like I have a handle on things.   Except for asteroids, but you know how they are.  I can choose my hazard profile with the place I live.  And I can try to have flexibility to take care of the possibility of cancer coming back for another try.

Planning depends on your model of what to expect.  I recently read an interesting piece about the problem with financial planning for retirement as practiced today.  It shows that if your model doesn’t take into account some variables, those variables are what can get you into trouble later.  Worth a look!

For our purposes, let’s rule out the less likely problems and work the more likely scenarios into our plans as what-ifs.  Maybe a what-if fund will help.  Maybe we will want a fallback plan on who to call if we need help, just in case.  If we have the sense that we’ll know what to do if we encounter a sudden problem, we’ll sleep better at night.

Planning gives us confidence

Looking into your dream location for retirement homes will help you choose with confidence.  Just months before the big hurricane came by, a lady I know picked out a lovely double-wide mobile home in central Florida and moved right in.

Now, this lady has lived in Florida for quite a while and has even had a stick-built house demolished in a storm.  But she did her research and bought the double-wide.  She also found out about where to evacuate with her cats, just in case.  Weeks later a big storm blew through.  They’re all fine.

During an ice storm years ago, we were without power for five days.  Fortunately the weather was cold so we just put the cold storage items on the porch.  We had just put in a gas stove to cook on, and we had a wood stove in the living room.  Water to flush with and wash with and paper plates with plastic cutlery rounded out the adaptations.

Since then we keep several gallons of water all the time. We have the generator so we can pump water and run the heat at least part of the time.  Our last outage was only a half-day thing, which surprised us given the mess the storm caused.  The high wind warning the night before led me to shower while the hot water was on, as I worked the next day.

Planning lets you go enjoy life

You want to know what kinds of what-ifs worry you.  If it’s about having your spouse pass on, try to break that down and find things you can do something about.  My husband worried that I would have to go through probate to take care of his estate when he passes so we put each other on all our accounts.  That way we streamline the access to money at a hard time.

We will soon do wills, and living wills as well.  We are organizing our  paperwork so that the survivor (or whoever is here trying to be an executor) can find it and handle affairs without having to tear the house down.  It’s a challenge–more on that in another post.

I am working out how best to keep cancer from returning.  Part of my plan is about exercise and diet, and part about insurance.  I also plan to follow up with my doctors and let them know of any changes so we can catch any oddities early.

So, despite what life throws at us, we are better off making some plans to deal with what comes.  If we get a surprise, we should have some “wiggle room” to deal with it.

Do you have any foreseeable problems in your future?  If so, how are you planning for them?






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