4 Tips for When Life Isn’t Vanilla


Mmmm.  Vanilla ice cream.  Vanilla is the greatest flavoricecream-sunday-and-woman of ice cream ever.  I know, it’s plain, not overly stimulating in the flavor department, and easy to find.  But with that one flavor I can meet just about any mood I’m in.  Without clashing, I can add chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, fresh strawberries, peanuts, even crème de menthe.  Try that versatility with just about any other flavor and eventually you will have a bad, bad dessert that is anything but a treat.  Vanilla is definitely the way to go.

If only life were like ice cream.  It would be so easy, so predictable.  We would know exactly what is coming.  We would always know we were safe.  It would be perfect.

But life isn’t vanilla.  And that’s a GOOD thing.

As I type we are in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm with flooding all over the place.  But it will keep my lawn and flowers green for a while longer.  And no rain means no rainbows.

Sometimes I’m not exactly sure where I am on road trips.  I’m not lost, just not sure of my exact location at times.  But believe me when I say I have seen some absolutely gorgeous vistas on those oft-forgotten backroads.

Consider even childbirth.  I’ve watched my wife go through it twice.  I can only imaging what that must feel like, especially after the previous 9 months.  In the moment, childbirth is not pretty.  In the bigger picture, however, it’s a beautiful event to bring that child into the world and grow your family.

Let’s be honest.  Vanilla is boring and it’s probably not that great of a representation of real life.

So what does this have to do with financial wellness?  Good question.

A vanilla life would make budgeting so much easier.  We would know exactly what is coming and what it is going to cost.  We would always have the money to cover and some left for savings.


Just in the time that we have been in our current home, we’ve had a terrible ice storm that tried hard to take me out, had a son, had a broken pipe that flooded part of the basement, had a couple of hail storms, had multiple tires go bad enough for immediate replacement, a variety of health issues and doctor visits, job changes, and some things I don’t care to even vaguely admit to.

Life isn’t vanilla.  But we can be ready for that.  Here are four tips to help you enjoy life even when it is some other flavor.

Savings Save You – Having emergency savings set aside can help us be prepared for those other flavors of life that may pop up, whether we want them to or not.  Be aware of your potential risk and save accordingly to be ready.

Insurance – The income tax penalty aside, it is damaged-housealways cheaper to have insurance than not.  Health, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, auto, life, or extra coverage for the more adventurous hobbies you have because you are bored with a vanilla life.

Budgeting – This is probably the key piece that allows for all of the others to fall into place.  Just yesterday I met with a high school group.  One student said she wanted to visit Jamaica, but thought that was a long way off because of the cost.  When we added up just what she was spending by going out to lunch, she could have taken a sack lunch and had enough for Jamaica in less than a year!  It’s your choice to make, so choose to work for your flavor of life.

Own It – Whatever flavor of life you prefer, own it.  Be intentional.  Just admit that your life would be pistachio ice cream with strawberries and crème de menthe all over it.  Want to throw a cherry on top?  Go for it.  If that’s your life, then deal with where you are.  We have to admit not only where we want to go, but where we are starting if we are going to follow the right path.

As much as we may want it to be, life is not vanilla.  We can do our best to make it so, but life happens and we are into a new flavor of life that we have never tried before.  That may or may not be bad, but it’s life and we have to deal with it.

These four tips will help you be successful in that.

If you’ve got just a few too many toppings on your ice cream (financially speaking), the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help.  You can call us at 605-330-2700 or schedule an appointment online at any time.  We can help you head in the right direction so that you can enjoy the flavor of life down the road, whatever flavor of life it is.

Life isn’t vanilla.  That’s not bad.  Just be ready for it and enjoy your ice cream.


written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.com

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