Saturday, January 21, 2012

Financial Freedom

I was thinking today about our financial goals.  My first answer is, of course, financial freedom.  But what does that really look like?  It looks different for every person, for every couple.  How does it look for you? Is it being debt free? Is it 6 months of expenses in the bank? Is it money to pay cash for college?  Is it a guilt-free, paid for vacation every year?  All of these milestones are on our personal "we finally made it" list.  Last June, I would have told you financial freedom for our family would include all of these things, but that was before.
Four and a half months ago, after a perfectly healthy pregnancy, I had an emergency C-section.  Three hours after I had been admitted, Ty's heart rate dropped, and it didn't recover.  I was quickly prepped for surgery and my baby was rescued.  He looked healthy and whole.  It was 1:20am, and baby Ty was having trouble keeping his temperature regulated, so he went to the nursery, while I settled into my recovery room for the rest of the night.  About eight hours after he was born, we were blindsided when a somber looking doctor entered our room.  Ty had stopped breathing, been intubated and was waiting to be transported away from me and to another hospital.  He spent four days in the NICU.  I now have a perfect bouncing baby boy, who spends his nights in a nursery across the hall, instead of across town.  He is a miracle. 

According to a CNN report, about 60 percent of bankruptcies filed in America are contributed to medical debt.  My family will not be part of this statistic.  In the middle of our crisis, we would have given any amount of money to insure our baby received the best care, but money never entered our minds. We are by no means wealthy.  I had stopped working as a flight attendant at the beginning of my third trimester.  We had been a one income family for three months.  But we were not unprepared.  We had health insurance, and some cash. Thanks to advice from Dave Ramsey, my husband and I decided months earlier to put our "debt snowball" on hold and build up a little emergency fund.  Just in case.  It wasn't nearly as large as the bills, but it made them a little more manageable.  We were not spared from crisis, but in the end we had one emergency to worry, stress and pray about, not two.  We had a baby crisis, but not a baby and a money crisis.  We don't have a million in the bank, own our home, or take big vacations, but four and a half months ago we discovered freedom.  Freedom from fear.  Freedom from guilt.  Financial Freedom. 

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