How To Stay Focused On Your Goals When Disaster Or Impulse Strikes8 min read

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How To Stay Focused On Your Goals When Disaster Or Impulse Strikes.

Setting goals is important in our lives, right? They give us something to strive for. We set them to motivate ourselves to achieve a place that we think will be better in our lives. But, what happens when disaster strikes and you find yourself facing an emergency situation? How do you not impulse on that new shiny thing that just came out and you think you absolutely need?

Disaster: The Roof Starts Leaking and Needs Replacement

Just this past Monday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium for one of the final free days of this year. I took my 2 girls and my mom since she had the day off. We had a blast for a couple hours as we went through and looked at all the galleries of the different fish and even got to touch lake sturgeon that they had out at a 4-D exhibit. Here’s a quick video I put together using Google Photos. The music is Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic”:

After getting home, our family went about our evening and when it was time to hop into bed, I noticed that the bed was all wet. Ugh, right before bed is NOT the time to be finding out that you have a household problem. I looked up and noticed water dripping from our ceiling fan. It had been raining all day. I changed the sheets and put some towels down to dry the bed up. However, now trying to fall asleep, I started envisioning all kinds of things being wrong with our roof.

I was thinking about the expense as to how much it might be to replace the roof, if we will need a new bed, the process of finding someone to get out and look at it asap. All these things were running through my mind as I tried to settle down to sleep. As you probably figured, I didn’t sleep well.

The next day, I contacted a local roofing company and asked them to come out and take a look for me.

He ended up coming out on Thursday afternoon and told me that I had a lot of wind damage where I was missing some shingles and that up to 50% of my roof was going to be needing to be replaced. He did say that insurance companies normally took care of this stuff though and that I should contact them about this.

I called my agent and explained what was going on and he told me that I should definitely file a claim and get things moving. The roofer told me that he couldn’t patch up the roof until I got the go ahead from the insurance company though. So, we ended up going another night without the roof being fixed. Friday morning the adjuster called and said that he couldn’t come out until the following Thursday. This means I have to go without my roof being fixed for yet another week until the adjuster can come out and take a look. Luckily, I was able to have the roofer come back out and patch the roof on Friday.

Staying focused on your goals, even when disaster hits. | We had just finished our fully funded emergency fund when the roof started leaking. We're working through our insurance to get it fixed and replaced since it's probably going to be pretty expensive. Click through to read the rest of the story.

You can see the roof patches that the roofer put on. This will allow us to get through the next week while waiting for the adjuster to come out and see if we can have it covered by insurance.

This could have gotten much worse if we didn’t address it. With winter weather creeping in, we’re lucky that it’s still warm and we haven’t seen our first snow fall yet here in the Midwest.

So, how does this affect our goal?

Well, we had just finished funding our 6 month emergency fund after the purchase of a vehicle back in December 2015 and now we are looking at spending again to fix our roof. The good news is that we have an “extra” paycheck this month because of how the paydays fall and will be able to significantly decrease the cost we will have to fix the roof because our homeowner’s insurance deductible is only $1,000. We will actually be able to end up cash flowing this expense with the extra paycheck, being able to still meet our goal of having the emergency fund completely funded.

So, how can you stay focused on your goals during emergencies?

Plan for unexpected events with an emergency fund

Creating and keeping an emergency fund liquid is a great way to safeguard your finances and investments. An emergency fund is money that you’ve set aside in a special account that is easily accessible, yet not available too easy.

We actually keep ours in a money market account with an online bank account that pays about 0.80% interest. It doesn’t pay much, but our aim for this money isn’t to make money, it’s to transfer risk. The only way to get the money in or out of the account is by electronic transfer from my main account to it. This means no check writing privileges and no ATM or debit cards associated with the account.

If you want to learn the basics on emergency funds, I created a post explaining all about it. Other than my roof ordeal, I actually had an amazing guest post from Liz over at Chief Mom Officer where she talked about how her emergency fund helped them get through a real rough patch when her husband ended up getting sepsis and was actually in a coma. She had to act fast as he was a stay at home dad and took care of their kids. If it wasn’t for having funds liquid and available, the story might not have had such a good outcome.

Look at the big picture

How To Stay Focused On Your Goals When Disaster Or Impulse Strikes | Stepping back and seeing your situation from a bigger vantage point can make a big difference when you are going through a disaster or when you are about to impulse on a purchase. We tend to get tunnel vision in both examples and stop seeing clearly because we are getting emotional about the situation.

Stepping back and seeing your situation from a bigger vantage point can make a big difference when you are going through a disaster or when you are about to impulse on a purchase. We tend to get tunnel vision in both examples and stop seeing clearly because we are getting emotional about the situation. Being on both sides of the deal, I can tell you that this is easier said than done.

I got emotional about the roof when I found out it was leaking…

It was easy to get frustrated because I was being inconvenienced when I just wanted to go to bed. I changed the sheets, put some towels on the bed where it was wet and tried to fall asleep. It made me angry and worried because of the unknown about the situation. As I tossed and turned, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to contact a roofer for an estimate. We have an emergency fund, so how to pay for it didn’t come into play (such a relief!).

The next morning, I remembered some roofers that I saw from previous issues and submitted a request for an estimate to them. By stepping back from this situation, in this case sleeping overnight, I was able to clear my head and start thinking clearly to get through the situation.

I almost went in and spent over $900 on an iPad because “I wanted it and deserved it”

Another time that I didn’t look at the big picture was when I almost impulsed on an iPad. I took my wife into the store and priced everything out in front of her ready to purchase. Luckily, she was smarter than me and actually talked me down.

Looking back on the situation, I was hyping the device up, thinking it would make me successful. In reality, we can actually get by on much less. My wife helped calm me down and think it over. By the time I thought it through, I actually talked myself out of it again.

Get multiple opinions on how to get through it

Since starting the process of fixing my roof, I’ve been asking quite a few people what I should do. I called my insurance agent to ask him before filing a claim. Talking it over with my family solidified that I had done the right thing. Talking with the roofer, he was able to give me the status of my roof as well.

When going through a disaster or about to impulse, seek third party approval on things to validate the decision. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger that you don’t look at things from the big picture. Asking around to others that have gone through the situation allows feedback that helps out in the long run. Remember, you want to make progress, but you want to stay focused on your goals as much as possible first.

Revisit your why

When the going gets tough and you are contemplating tough decisions, remembering your “why” is crucial to staying on track. It can be easy to go overboard during a disaster and overspend or when you make an impulsive decision. You can end up going way over and not thinking things through. You have to revisit why you’ve started making better decisions and how your outlook will affect your plan.

What have you gone through that forced you to rethink your plan? Did you blow it in hindsight or did you buckle down and make a good decision? I would love to hear your stories below. If they are big enough to warrant a post of their own, you could always submit them here.


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Steven Goodwin

Owner/Blogger/Consultant at MyFamilyOnABudget
Steve Goodwin, a stay-at-home dad of two girls is passionate about finances and is helping others just like you get out of debt and build wealth handling money God's way. His goal is to inspire people like you to gain control of their finances by destroying debt and building wealth using their cash flow.
Posted in Emergency Fund, Finances, Home Ownership, Insurance.


  1. Great post with some excellent reminders of why it’s important to stick with your goals even when disaster strikes. Life is full of “Murphys” trying to knock us down, but since you were well prepared (by having insurance, extra cash flow, and an emergency fund) your roof will be just a blip to you in the long run. If you weren’t so well prepared, it could have been a giant disaster and put you in debt for a long time.
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…8 Christmas Spending Facts, and 5 Tips for Busy Working MomsMy Profile

    • Yes, you are well aware of the need for a good emergency fund and sticking to your plan when disaster strikes! At this point, even though we can’t get snow off the roof to get the adjuster out probably now for a while, it will be just a blip on the radar just like you said. We at least were able to get the patch on before the snow started though.

      Thanks for stopping by Liz!

  2. It always seems like in December something major has to be fixed on one of our cars. Always around the holidays. We too have an emergency fund. Instead of spending all our tax refund money I put some in this fund each year. Now each December I don’t get frustrated- well, at least not as much. Sometimes I wish it would skip a year!

    • Ha, so true. There is always something coming up! At least it seems to be spread out enough for us that we have time to rebuild in between! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment John!

  3. What a debacle! I truly believe sleeping on it is a great way to handles these situations. Sometimes we act too fast and in our hastiness we can make bad (and expensive) decisions. Funny you brought up Liz’s story – that’s exactly what I was thinking of while you were writing. In her case, there wasn’t any time to make a decision. Life can he sacru at times but there is nothing scarier than not being financially prepared for these situations. Im glad it all worked out for you!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…Money & Morals – Using Your $$ For GoodMy Profile

    • Hi Miss Mazuma! Yes, it has been a debacle! At least we’ve been able to get a patch on the roof since we’ve been sitting with snow on the roof since. We can’t even get the adjuster out to look until the snow clears LOL.

      Liz shared her story here as a guest post, so I’m very aware of her story and it’s crazy how things happened there.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to chat!

  4. I would not have the peace of mind I do about my finances without an emergency fund. My parents could barely cobble an emergency fund together when I was younger, and I watched mini-disaster after mini-disaster occur with the house. Our heat stopped working, then the AC stopped working the following summer, termites… each event set them back further and further. Emergency funds are such a powerful thing, but unfortunately, some people don’t realize it until it’s too late.

    There have been a few times I’ve pulled from my emergency fund, and even though I have the money saved up, it can still be frustrating to deal with the loss of the money and the complications of whatever it is you’re trying to fix. Insurance agencies aren’t fun to deal with at all…I hope the roof gets fixed soon!

    • Thanks for stopping by Erin and thanks for sharing your journey and how you saw your parents handle emergencies. It can definitely take its tolls on us, can’t it?

      My insurance company hasn’t been bad, I have had a good experience thus far, we will see how this roof debacle works out and go from there!

      Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  5. Great post Steven. You’re right. Making emotional choices with money isn’t always the best decision. One way to prevent that is to put off the purchase for at least a week and see if you still want it. I also think it’s smart that you called more than one roofer for an estimate. When speaking to a roofer, always see if they offer a free estimate.

    • Thanks! It was a great experience for us. We went through 6 different companies. We ended up going with the highest bid, but they also matched the lowest bid too. Putting off the purchase for a period of time so you can “cool” off is always a great idea so you don’t get caught up in an emotional impulse purchase! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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