Surviving the Downturn

Surviving the Downturn #realoilfieldwivesAt first I was afraid…

I was petrified…

Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…

I’m not talking about your lover, I’m talking about cash.  Some of us this year are saying goodbye to some serious oilfield cash and we don’t know if we are going to make it.  In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive”.  A lot of us have seen our husbands and families earn more money than we ever dreamed.  Oilfield workers have sacrificed time away from their families, sleep, and probably shaved a few years off of their lives to provide the way they have.  A lot of us may feel as if we are sitting on pins and needles, curious as to what the future market for oil and gas holds.  I’ve been in this place before, a place where my income changed dramatically in an instant.  I survived and you will as well.

I got into real estate during a historic high in the market.  In the same way, a lot of us have gotten into oil during a historic high/boom.  Then suddenly, things weren’t booming anymore.  To make things worse, my husband lost his job.  I kept thinking everything would get better and hoped it would do so quickly.  It did get better, but it took a lot longer than we ever would have imagined.  It took thousands of dollars and lots of hard work to clean up the hole we put ourselves in financially.  During that difficult time, Oilman and I made serious changes to how we looked at and spent money.  We got involved with a program called Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.  This past winter, I helped facilitate a course at my church on how to help people with their finances.

These are the things I learned kicking and screaming along the way.  I tried my best to resist the changes happening without my approval, but they happened anyway.  Some of you may be in a similar situation.

Get proactive.  The time to start preparing is now.  Spend less and save more.  Do not bury your head in the sand and keep pretending that everything is the same as it was last year.  Ignoring the problems in front of you does not make them go away. Make a plan on what you are going to do if your spouse loses their job in the current downturn.  If you do not have a savings plan in place, start now.  I would suggest a minimum of 3-6 months of living expenses in a savings account.

Your income does not define you.  We start to believe that maybe our worth and value can be identified with what we have or own.  It doesn’t.  It is humbling to go from feeling like you’re successful and an earner to barely making it by.  This doesn’t change who you are as a person.  You still have value even when your bank account has less zeros.

Stop spending money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.  It is stuff you guys, and most of us have too much of it.  Do not spend your hard earned savings just to keep “stuff”.  I have done it and I have seen many people do it around me.  When finances get tight, we continue to hold on to things that we can no longer afford.  For me, it was wasting money on small items like clothes from Target when I didn’t have the funds in my budget.  Those small items add up quickly.  I have seen others refuse to sell a house that they could no longer afford.  People can’t pay for health insurance, yet still own an expensive vehicle.  We will eat through our savings until they are empty because we refuse to get rid of our things.  Who cares if you have to sell your expensive financed vehicle you can no longer afford?  Having to make car payments or credit card payments can eat your meager earnings in an instant.  Wondering how you are going to pay for everything is a lot more stressful than people knowing you are downsizing your lifestyle.  Dump the debt.  Fancy cars, boats, four-wheelers, motorcycles, and clothes don’t make you happy, but lowering your debt (and thus your stress levels), will.

Get on a budget.  Sit down with your significant other and get on a budget.  You spend only what you make and not any more.  Track what you spend.  Use tools like Mint.com, Quicken, or a cash envelope system (Dave Ramsey has great tools for this).  A lot of times we have no clue where our money is going.  If I don’t watch closely and monitor it, I can put money into my accounts and then it is gone.  Where is it all going?  Where does it need to go?  Where can you cut back?  You will not be able to answer these questions until you prepare and use a budget.

Avoid credit cards.  One of the biggest recommendations I would give anyone is to avoid credit card debt.  Credit cards are not for emergencies, that is what a savings account is for.  I made a HUGE mistake when it came to credit cards.  I used them for “emergencies” or to help bridge the gap from what I spent vs. what I was making.  Do not make this same mistake.  It is too easy to fall into a debt trap with credit cards.  It takes years and an incredible amount of money to pay those off.  Do. Not. Do. This.

We can’t control what OPEC does or doesn’t do.  No one will ask us what commodities should be priced at.  We won’t have a say in how much oil sells for.  All we can do is work hard and be proactive when it comes to our own financial picture.  Don’t be afraid. We will survive.

About LC

Howdy! LC and her Oilman live in the ‘burbs north of Austin, TX. She is a real estate broker, but you won’t find her face on a bus bench and she doesn't drive a Cadillac. Oilman works in Texas as a Completions Consultant. Don’t worry, most people don’t know what that title means either. LC calls him frac guru, for short. She may be the only woman in America that hated both "Twilight" AND "50 Shades of Grey". Oilman and LC like wine, good music, their two dogs, and cervezas in Central America. Follow the adventures of LC and Oilman at: www.LivingOilfieldLife.com or on Instagram at: living_oilfield_life

Comments

  1. My husband and I taught a class at our church last fall. I wish we would have taken while we were engaged…I would have so many things different leading up to our wedding (11/8/14) We are working on following the plan currently so we can get out of debt and purchase our first house together. I can highly recomend the program to anyone!

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