Totaling My Parents Car Taught Me How to Survive a Financial Disaster

Insider’s experts select the best products and services to help you make wise decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases we receive a commission from our partners, but our opinion is our own. The conditions apply to the offers listed on this page.

  • I wrecked my parents’ car as a teenager and it taught me how to get through a financial crisis.
  • I had to go to traffic school to lower the insurance premium, which taught me to look for ways to lower the cost.
  • I’ve also learned how to make temporary lifestyle changes to get by when money is tight.

When I was a teenager, my mother’s car was accidentally totaled a few weeks before Christmas. It was bad. Like “bent axle, smashed rear end, can’t get anywhere on my own, the cops had to drive me home,” bad.

Ironically, my Christmas present from my parents this year was to be my very own set of car keys. Instead, I got traffic school and was allowed to drive the bus for the rest of the school year.

After the police and insurance company reported it, my parents sat down to come up with a plan; I would be part of this plan. My parents were upset about the loss of a car, but it wasn’t the apocalypse my dramatic teenage self had in mind. We made a plan to come back from this financial loss together, and the lessons I learned from it would serve me for the rest of my life.

Also Read :  Financial markets showing new strain of coping with rate hikes

I’ve learned to find ways to soften the blow of a financial hit

Part of the plan was that I would attend traffic school. The insurance company agreed to reduce the premium increase that usually comes when a teenage driver is involved in an accident while I’m driving. Traffic school (before it could be done online) was incredibly boring and painfully cumbersome. However, from experience I have learned to look for ways to lessen the damage of a financial fiasco.

Fast forward years later when I was newly married and in my senior year of college. To my dismay, I found that my new husband had accidentally forgotten to pay a bunch of bills… for many months. Some had even gone into collections.

Remembering my parents’ good example, I decided not to kill my new husband and use my problem-solving skills to get us out of debt. I called the companies he owed to make payment plans or to see if I could negotiate a discount if we pay in full. In less than a year the debt was paid off and we were free.

Also Read :  Army chaplain provides workshops on financial literacy, stronger marriages on Okinawa

I’ve also learned that a temporary lifestyle change can help you weather a financial storm

Another part of my parents’ plan was that I would take the bus to and from school since after the accident we didn’t have a car that I could use. Anyone who’s ever been to high school knows that when you’re old enough to drive, it’s very, very uncool to be on the bus. I grumbled, but my parents were adamant that it had to be this way until we could afford another car. So it was the bus.

Despite the uncoolness, I’ve learned that during a financial downturn, some things you want might have to wait. It may even be necessary to change the way you do things for a while, but the ultimate recovery and financial freedom are worth the sacrifice.

This lesson certainly served me well during my studies. I went for walks, shopped at thrift stores, looked for free activities for the weekends, and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly, but I was able to graduate with almost no debt.

It was even more useful a few years later after a business investment went awry. My husband’s business associates turned against him, leaving him and us with no income and most of the debt. We wrestled with what to do and reluctantly came to the conclusion that in order to get out of debt, we would have to sell our house and live in a trailer for a while. It was cramped and uncomfortable and difficult for our kids, but it worked. We quickly paid off our debts and were soon able to buy a new house and start over.

Also Read :  Tightening financial conditions will slow global economic growth and inflation

However, I think the most important lesson I learned from the aftermath of the car accident was not to be afraid. This was a problem that could be solved. At first I was scared and a little traumatized, but my parents showed me that all is not lost. They ended up getting a new car and I was finally allowed to drive again.

Our plan to cut costs and change our lifestyle a bit allowed my family to come out of it together, and I was right in the middle of it. I was taught to be physically and mentally resilient, but this experience taught me that I could be financially resilient as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.