December was outrageously expensive. Even though I started shopping for Christmas presents in October, a bunch of last minute gifts popped up for co-workers and in-laws. (Apparently gifting presents to coworkers is an honored tradition?!) My monthly expenses were slightly higher than normal, but I rolled with the punches and chalked it up to the holiday season.
Then I missed my flight to London.
The flight left without me on it and I had no idea. Blissfully unaware, I arrived at the airport. It was deserted and I quickly learned that last flight had left two hours ago. Tears, drama and late night phone calls ensued.
It turns out it was partly the travel agency’s fault and partly mine (But if we’re being honest, it was mainly mine…) so they offered to split the fare and I paid $500 to fly to London a few days later. But being stranded in Los Angeles for two days while I waited brought additional expenses. My sister generously let me stay at her apartment while she was out of town, but I still had to buy food and order Ubers. In fact, on the night I missed my flight, I was so upset that I accidentally ordered a $50 Uber XL.
In total, December brought $700 of unexpected expenses.
…But it came with $650 of extra money as well.
I received a $400 refund and an additional $250 freelance payout. “Extra” income paid for the entirety of my unexpected expenses.
Once again, I’ve been reminded that we are given exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. After all, this isn’t the first time money has entered my life at just the right moment.
During my last two years of college, I lived in (almost) poverty. Even though I worked three part-time jobs, I barely had enough money to survive. Halfway through my final year, I was contacted by a collection agency and informed that I owed my previous university $4,800. This was news to me and I immediately contacted the financial aid office. We went back and forth as I tried to fight the charges with no success. They offered me a repayment plan of $200/month with 15% interest. There was no way around it: I could not afford the payment. Luckily, they gave me three months of “grace” to figure it out.
Two months later, my grandfather spontaneously gifted all his grandchildren $5,200 worth of Apple stock. The day his letter arrived in the mail, I cried.
It was the exact amount I needed and a few days later, my debt was paid in full.
Even though it may not always feel like it, the truth is that we are always given exactly what we need, exactly when we need it, and tomorrow we will all be given a new year.
It’s easy to remember the money that leaves our bank accounts, especially when the accounts are empty after an expensive holiday season. But I want to challenge you to count the money that has entered your bank accounts as well.
Whether it was a $20 bill you found on the sidewalk and the “free” dinner that ensued, the $5,000 gift from a relative that went towards debt or an unexpected $100 earned from freelancing, the money you are given and earn is a symbol of your blessings. Sometimes the money is unexpected and sometimes the money provides inexplicable relief, but the truth is that it’s a gift.
Tomorrow is a new year. It’s a year that is filled with promise, adventure and new success. But it will undoubtedly be filled with moments of sadness, tears and mistakes as well.
In 2016, you will spend money and you will earn money. There will be regret and there will be gratitude. It’s a new year, but you’re the same you. And that’s the biggest blessing of all.
We have the privilege of entering the new year with the wisdom we gained from the old year. Even if 2015 didn’t go as you planned or if it was filled with painful setbacks, you learned, you grew and no matter what, you are stronger and more capable than you’ve ever been before.
As you recover from the holiday season of spending, don’t beat yourself up about the gifts you bought, the extra wine you purchased or trips you took. Instead, embrace the fact that the New Year will be remarkably similar to the previous year—filled with unexpected gifts, remarkable moments and growth.