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True Acceptance of Your Circumstances and Your Finances

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

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.


Saturday 3rd of March 2012

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.

Andi @ MealPlanRescue

Saturday 25th of February 2012

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.


Friday 24th of February 2012

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.


Friday 24th of February 2012

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


Friday 24th of February 2012

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.

Barbara Friedberg

Thursday 23rd of February 2012

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.


Friday 24th of February 2012

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