When I put out my first blog post since coming to Dubai, one of the questions I was asked was ‘how did you decide the right sacrifice to make for you?’ That is a great question, but before I answer, I want to give a little more background.
The question was asked on the basis that ‘financially we have to make sacrifices, [and] we choose which those are’ and it’s this point I want to pick up on.
Let me start with the answer I gave on my Facebook thread…
Firstly, I would say we can’t always choose – it’s not that easy unless you are prepared. When I lost my health & subsequently my job – it changed my financial situation overnight and I was not covered. If I could go back, I would have insurances in place, but I can’t.
Having thought about this some more, I believe, yes, you do have a choice… but (and yes there is a but) you need to take action before it’s too late.
The experience I had illustrates this perfectly… I left it too late to have a real choice. By the time I was diagnosed it was too late to have been healthier, too late to have been fitter, too late to have worried less, too late to get critical illness cover, too late to have saved rather than spend and basically too late to have a plan B.
You see in my head, everything I was doing was OK, I was the fittest I had been in my life and I was spending money on things and experiences myself and my family deserved. I had savings, not loads as I’d taken time out with my girls, but I had some and I also had insurance being sorted by my employer – so why do I need to sort anything else…
The thing is you never know when the worst might happen but life being what it is means the risk is always there, this is where we have a choice – to be proactive about mitigating risks before they happen or if something happens deal with it then – that is your choice if you take it in time.
I’m going to concentrate on the money point here as it’s singularly had the biggest effect, other than the physical cancer itself. I get that if we ‘insure’ ourselves we may be paying out money unnecessarily but what if you do need that money one day, what then? My diagnosis meant not only did I lose my health, my job and my ‘rainy day savings’ it also meant my husband lost earnings caring for me and the children and the impact of all that was significant.
Secondly, the simple answer is I have a life geared up to a certain income level – most importantly right now that is the girl’s education. Right now, they need that as much as me about every day and if I can make a difference short term, it’s a sacrifice we as a family have decided is worth the risk.
This part is also very relevant… as a couple, my husband and I had decided to put the girl’s education high on the agenda. To us we would have years to save once school was done and with us both finding increasing success in our careers, hard work and time would bring us the financial security for retirement.
So, when the inevitable happened we couldn’t just switch off everything that we were doing without huge implications, we ‘simply’ stopped all the luxuries and did all we could to survive which did not just impact us but also the girls, our extended family and to a certain extent our friends too.
And by luxuries it wasn’t just the champagne, flowers and expensive nights out… it sometimes meant dreading putting petrol in the car, paying for the weekly shop and meeting a friend for coffee too… life really did change, if not to those looking from the outside, but absolutely for all involved from the inside.
So that’s it, my take on ‘choice’ but as always how does this apply to you…
Well firstly are you prepared… if the worst happens, to you or someone close to you, are you as ready as you can be to cope. I don’t want to be morbid, but things do happen, and they could happen to you.
Secondly if you are not prepared, are you prepared to deal with that risk. If you are, great, if not, think about what you can do to mitigate the risk… have a friend on call, make a will, get insurance, whatever it takes.
Thirdly if the worst does happen, don’t panic and more importantly don’t try and cope on your own – it’s almost impossible. Reach out to someone – they may be family, friend or a stranger but get the help you need.
Another thing I urge you to do today is live your life to the full, your way. Whatever life means to you go live your dash – meet people, write a book, travel, just do it!!
Oh and finally I better answer that original question ‘how did you decide the right sacrifice to make for you?’… I did my homework, I researched, I asked questions, I reached out and I took a risk but only when I had spoken to the people that matter – and the people who matter know who they are.
The people who matter are the ones who are there for you when you’re winning or losing, having a good day or bad and who won’t care if you succeed or fail. Keep those people close as you never know when you might need them.
I dedicate this post to all my family and friends without whom I would not be where I am today – you know who you are xxx