accept where you are

The funniest thing happened to me the other day.

While standing in line at a Subway I looked out of the window into the parking lot long enough to see someone drive away with my car. I watched the man and my car until both were out of sight from my vantage point. In that moment I had a flashback to the time in high school when I raced out of our back door one morning to get to school only to stop dead in my tracks like Bugs Bunny with one foot on the ground and one foot pin-straight in the air, shocked at the empty spot where I had parked the night before. It had snowed two days earlier, so you could literally see the footprints of the thief and my tire treads as they left the farm.

In that moment there was sheer panic as I yelled into the house, “Dad, where’s my car?!?”

But in that same moment last week, it was completely different. There was no shock, there was no stomach drop. I didn’t run out to the parking lot in a pathetic attempt to rundown the person.

Instead I thought,

“Well, God’s trying to tell me something.”

I had a momentary thought to call the police, but then I chuckled to myself (yes, chuckled in the midst of this) that I could only describe the man as a Caucasian with a black mustache—as if there aren’t thousands of them around Houston.

After ordering my sandwich and walking out to the parking lot I realized that it was not my car that was stolen; someone had the same exact car as me (dust and all, I swear!) and had simply been going about their day. I chuckled again, got into my car, and drove back to work.

What had happened to me during this typically scary and emotionally-driven situation was that I had totally accepted what life was throwing at me.

I could have stomped my feet and thrown a deserved tantrum, bawled my eyes out at my woes and become a blubbering mess on the street curb, lamented at the CVS treasures I had just gotten moments earlier that the thief would now unjustly be enjoying, and tweeted about the tragedy with some snide and all-knowing remark about how mankind is upside down.

But instead of expending all of that energy and making a fool of myself running out of the Subway and in front of this car (only to find that my car had, infact, not been stolen), I went with the flow instead.

The consequences of my car being stolen were obviously going to be bad. I was going to have to call someone to pick me up from the parking lot, file a police report that would go nowhere, perhaps try to track down the local chop shops (not a worthwhile pursuit for the beater car), and then of course go back to commuting with Paul to work until we shelled out a few more thousand dollars to purchase another used beater car.

Yet, I just accepted the card I was being dealt.

Truly, this was the first time I think in my entire life I have just accepted something.

I am not a blissed-out, terminally balanced yogi, nor can I follow in the altruistic footsteps of Chris McCandless who donated all of his money ($25,000) to charity, abandoned his belongings and life, and roamed into the wilderness of Alaska to live free of consumerism, greed, and practically everything.

You see, I want to continue saving money, I enjoy most of my belongings, and I want to stay in what I see as a comfortable life.

I have goals, dreams, ambitions, and I want and need just like everyone else, which is why I realize how hard it is to just accept where you are in life.

But having just experienced this moment of pure acceptance has made me want to share the experience in the hopes that more of us can experience it in the future, and in an area that seems to bleed into all other areas in our lives: our finances.

Whether you are scraping by, not scraping by, comfortable in your life or keeping up with the Jones’s—accepting where you are in life is sometimes the most difficult thing to do.

I have been in debt, I have been out of debt.

I’ve had times when there was $2,300 in my account after four years of scrimping and saving. I’ve had times when there has been much more in my account. I’ve lived in foreign countries on shoe string budgets.

But if you and I can do it, if we can just accept where we are financially in life and learn how to manage your money from there, we might just have a chuckle before being able to calmly and rationally move onto our next step.

Whatever that next step may be.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.
21 replies
  1. Pete says:

    Your story reminds me of the times I’ve gone to get into my car in the parking lot and despite pressing the key fob several times the door just refuses to open. Only after I look inside the car do I realize that despite the car being the same make, model and color it wasn’t actually my car. Just coincidence that my car is parked a couple of bays away.

    Reply
  2. Andi @ MealPlanRescue says:

    I’m far from yogi calm as well, but I whole-heartedly get what you’re saying. There are many things in life we have no control over and getting upset about it has no positive function. I spend enough energy getting peeved about the decisions I make, and even then, life’s too short.

    Reply
  3. [email protected] says:

    The most important takeaway from this post is that, even with the best plans, you may lose your money by circumstances outside of your control. Because you have been through so many different financial situations, I assume you are more flexible than someone who has always been wealthy or always poor.

    Reply
  4. Niki says:

    I admire people who are calm and collected during a time of crisis. I really am aspiring to be one, but my initial outbursts kind of prevent that from happening. I am good at accepting after the outburst but I’m working on the guttural reaction.

    I love this concept and it’s just another reminder. Thank you

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      You are most welcome! I certainly do not have this reaction to everything that happens. Sometimes, I pout and throw my own little tantrum:). This was a great experience though, so maybe the next time I will react more like this.

      Reply
  5. Barbara Friedberg says:

    I was totally ready to be jealous when you described how well you handled the perceived theft of your car. I would have been through the roof. Anyhow, I’m glad it wasn’t your car.

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      I am happy as well! And grateful for the experience. Life has so many lessons to teach, and in some surprising ways.

      Reply
  6. Dana says:

    This post has perfect timing for me. Sometimes we all get so caught up in where we want to be that we don’t respect and truly accept where we are. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  7. Matt @ RamblingFever Money says:

    How much of this particular contentment do you relate to the fact that your car was a beater? This is why I love driving a beater! I never worry about it being stolen or broken in to. In fact, I leave the doors unlocked at all times. Don’t care if it gets scratched or dented. If it does get stolen, the jokes on them!

    Did you read that entire story about “Alexander Supertramp?” I loved that book. Read it a few years ago, and still think about the story often. My only wish was that McCandless would have lived to tell his own story. So much of it went untold, and even the book that I read would probably have never been written had he not died up in Alaska.

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      Great question and thought Matt. I am sure it added to the moment–the fact that a $20,000 car did not get stolen versus a $3,000 car. But I also was not thinking of the car’s value in the moment.

      Also, I loved Into the Wild! It would have been extremely interesting to hear the story from Chris.

      Reply
  8. John | Married (with Debt) says:

    Excellent post Amanda! Reading this made me think of how I’d react.

    Through your instant acceptance of what “happened,” you made yourself more powerful than the thief and what they did to you.

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      Thank you John! We all hold the power to our reactions. Just so hard to react serenely and accepting sometimes!

      Reply
  9. bax says:

    Having taken control and responsibility for my life, I worry so much less about the random things I cannot effect. It’s a powerful way to be free.

    I call the state of mind, being like a Chicago Cubs fan.

    Reply
  10. Anna Brown says:

    A really inspiring post, thanks! I had something stolen a few days ago, not my car, thank goodness- and it does help to put it all in perspective. It’s easy to say in retrospect, but getting mad is counterproductive really- and

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman says:

      Hello Anna! Thank you.

      Definitely easier said in retrospect, but glad you can get a different perspective on the entire situation.

      Reply
  11. [email protected] Financial.com says:

    Awesome post Amanda! Let me just say I am glad it wasn’t your car 😀 Contentment is so key in our lives, even as we try to achieve certain goals. I am learning to be content, and hopefully it will show when situations arise like the one you were in.

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      Thank you so much! I really enjoyed writing it, and experiencing it.

      We do hold the key to our happiness, but it is very easy (for me too!) to blame the world or others or anything else for the natural feelings that arise in bad situations. But they are our feelings!

      And ofcourse I generally still get angry in situations where people typically get angry…but I hope to feel acceptance and contentment more going forward.

      Reply
  12. Diana B says:

    Beautiful post and timely for me in some ways. Although I’m satisfied where my family is financially, I’m sometimes unhappy with other things in my life–so today I will focus on accepting it all.

    Reply
    • FruGal says:

      Hi Diana!

      Thank you. And I am so happy that you are going to try and accept wherever you are right now. Difficult to do, but I think it is best for all of us!

      I will try to accept more as well, because it was quite a great feeling.

      Reply

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