What a school bus can teach you about finances
By Alicia Kellebrew
NFCC Certified Financial Professional
When people walk into my office, they may notice the little, bright yellow die cast school bus prominently displayed on my bookcase. It sits there right in my line of sight, and that of my clients, for a reason. Every now and again someone will notice it, smile, and ask me what it is doing there. I always respond with the short version of why it is there: to remind us all that WE have to drive the bus. Of course, that's the short version because it is a metaphor, not only for money management, but also for other life issues as well.
Here are just a few of the things that we can take away from my little yellow school bus:
- First, “YOU have to DRIVE the bus!” No matter what type of situation or struggle that is going on around us, we have to do our part to be proactive, take charge and do what we can with and in the situation. No situation gets resolved by doing nothing; in fact, that is usually the worst idea. “Driving the bus” may include determining and evaluating options, seeking advice or assistance from others, or simply deciding on a plan of action and putting the wheels in motion.
- There are are a lot of people counting on the bus driver: the school, the parents, and the kids. What would happen if the bus driver didn’t take care of themselves and couldn’t drive the bus? Not only would they be compromising themselves, but they would also be creating a ripple effect that would cause issues for many others as well. Who is it that counts on you? Your family? Your friends? Your employer? Before we can do anything else, we have to make sure that we are taking good care of ourselves, which means prioritizing essentials above other expenses, even debt payments.
- The stop sign on a school bus reminds us that sometimes we have to stop and carefully consider all options and consequences before making any big financial decisions. The point at which we have the most say in the matter is BEFORE we sign any contracts not AFTER. If things become difficult after we sign a mortgage, car, or student loan, there may not be as many desirable options available to us as we would like. This shouldn’t stop anyone from trying to communicate with creditors if they are having issues though, as there may be ways they can help.
- The door on the bus reminds us that we have to stay open-minded when looking at possible solutions to financial difficulties. Even the options that are not our first choices or the most desirable should be considered. Sometimes we end up making the hard choices by eliminating the options that just won’t work at all and then picking the best of what is left.
- The cheery yellow color of the bus reminds us that even the most difficult situations are easier to deal with if we can stay positive. When clients who are struggling with finances come into my office, I try to be an encourager to show them that no matter what the situation is, things can get better; it just takes time.
About the author
Alicia Kellebrew is a NFCC certified financial professional with The Village Financial Resource Center.