Critical and creative thinking skills are a must when you have a family with two working parents and two children. This past year my wife and I have had to become very creative with our budgeting to keep our family on a clear financial track. Raising a family can be tricky for anyone but when financial problems unexpectedly arise it really throws a curve ball in the mix. We had to do some quick thinking and come up with some unusual methods to keep our family on track with the holidays quickly approaching. We used creative thinking to look around for the ideas and critical thinking to put those creative ideas out and decide which ones would work best for our situation. Last October with very little warning I lost my job. Now since my wife only works part time, I am the major bread winner in our family. My job supplies our money for our monthly bills, our health insurance and our life insurance. My wife’s paycheck is more for spending money and savings.
However, our savings was extremely low because we had just purchased a new home a couple months before and had to make two unexpected trips home to Illinois within three weeks the month before because of illness in the family. When I came home and told my wife I was losing my job she was definitely extremely worried. We had to come up with a plan to keep our financial heads above water and quick. First we sat down and went over each and every expense in our household. We took out the ones we didn’t really need such as extra internet fees and clothing allowances for the next couple of months. These were just luxuries and our clothing was fine for now. We wanted to try our best for now to keep the kids’ lives minimally changed. Next we looked at ways to make extra income while I was unemployed. I am an IT security engineer so we knew that more than likely I would not be unemployed for long but we needed to plan for three months minimum.
Also included in these three months was of course Christmas, which of course means even more money is needed. I was previously in the military so I would continue to get my GI Bill money since I was going to school so that was helpful. My wife picked up extra hours anytime she could get them at work and I took small jobs on the side helping friends fix computer problems. Since I was home the daycare needs were able to be stopped and when I had interviews my wife found friends that could help out. The problems arose when we had to have some unexpected plumbing done in this time period. We do not typically use credit cards. We keep two on hand for times of emergency but after some bad experiences when we were younger we make it a must to pay them off immediately.
Together we decided it was a must to put the plumbing fees on them and pay it off as soon as I got another job. Our daughter performs in a school activity and we had to ask her grandparents to help out with the fees to that. We told them she would understand if it was part of her Christmas present. It worked out great and helped her to understand that as a family we needed to work together. Keeping our house and vehicle payments, the utilities and food on the table were the most important things. All in all with some creative and critical thinking we have come through what could have been a complete financial crisis for us. We did not get too behind and as soon as I started working again we made sure to get all credit card bills paid back off and money back into our savings in case this ever happens again.
Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan. (2012). The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Tenth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson
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