Financial health means being able to care for the people you love.
This year, I’ve had more times than usual to be thankful for financial health. My beloved grandfather, age 95, had a stroke the first week in January. He has almost completely recovered, thankfully, but it was a very potent reminder of why financial health matters to me.
You never forget certain phone calls. “There’s been an accident.” “She didn’t make it.” In my case, “Your Poppop’s had a stroke.” Fresh off a holiday visit with my in-laws, I dumped out my dirty laundry and threw some random items into my suitcase. I grabbed my briefcase, kissed my husband and kids, and hopped in the car.
The important part is what I didn’t do: I didn’t fret about paying for gas or tolls, I didn’t worry about whether this trip was going to cause a financial hardship for my family, and I didn’t stress about what my job was going to say about my change in schedule.
During the time in the hospital, there were more times that could have been financially stressful. Those hospital meals aren’t cheap, and neither are replacement toiletries when you’ve forgotten to pack yours.
After a few days, my grandfather was released to go home on the condition that he was not alone. For four months, I was part of the team making sure he had someone with him 24 hours a day. With full-time family responsibilities at home, I was only on Poppop duty for two days a week. Even those two days were challenging – I felt like I was never where I needed to be, and I wasn’t doing a good job for anyone. I felt guilty when I left home, and I felt guilty when I left to come home. However, I never suffered with the stress of wondering how to pay for it all: gas and tolls, drive-through meals, the convenience meals I bought for my family, and the other incidental costs.
I’m thrilled to report that my grandfather is doing very well, and no longer requires someone to be with him all the time. In part, that is because he was able to receive the care he needed, in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by people who were focused on nothing but his progress. And we were able to give him that time and energy because of our own financial health.
Because we’re a military family, my definition of financial health has always included around some variation of “being able to get home in case of an emergency.” As luck would have it, we’re currently living just an hour and a half from my grandfather. But we haven’t always lived this close, and he’s not our only family member. My first financial goal, wherever the Navy sends us, to have the financial flexibility that I could put my family of six people on plane today, to go wherever we need to go, and eat, and rent cars, and do whatever else is necessary to care for the six of us while also being where we need to be for our family. We’ve used this financial flexibility more than a few times, and I am always thankful for the opportunity.
This year has reinforced what financial health means to me. Financial health means being able to focus on people, not money. Isn’t that what life is all about? #finhealthmatters
This post is part of an awareness project called Financial Health Matters Day. Financial Health Matters Day is sponsored by the Center for Financial Services Innovation. You can find more about their work at http://cfsinnovation.org/. You can find more posts about financial health by searching for #finhealthmatters on Twitter.