Foreclosure rates are up again in the first half of 2010, clearly, we are not out of our collective financial mess yet, even if the market is over 10,000. I wonder what percentage of this increase was due to poor budgeting, or planning, and a lack of self-control with credit and pursuit of the finer things... How much of this increase could have been prevented if only there was more attention to the details of the family balance sheet, and/or a greater focus on saving?
There is still plenty of job loss and tough situations that are difficult to overcome that I'm sure are represented in this increase and have little to do with a lack of discipline or responsibility. That should be reason enough for all of us to take some time to do a few things to make sure you be alright should the unexpected hit you!
They say the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. Maybe saving and strong budgeting and planning is best done when you really don't need to do it to make ends meet.
Take a few minutes to save like you have to. Look at your budget, your cash flow... What would you do differently if you or your spouse lost your job? What if certain variable expenses increased unexpectedly (heating, gas prices, insurance, etc) What would you do more or less of? Prioritize the things you could go without in the worst case scenario... then implement some of those withholdings on a trial basis, you might be surprised! BANG! You just saved a few extra bucks for those kids to get to college! When of course you are disciplined enough (as I know you are ;)) to save that money you just made.
I have gone through this exercise with my family (because we now have to and I wish I did this when I did NOT have to!) and we have some good new money habits. I have cut our grocery budget in half and everyone is a bit more aware of what we are spending and questioning whether or not its a good idea. The discussions about money with my two kids (both almost 10) have been outstanding. I can see how their feelings about money are being shaped as we speak. I hope we are doing a good job!
Save like you need to. Give it a shot because someday you might.