One of the biggest surprise benefits of financial health is that you have the freedom to be there for the people you love.
This is a re-write of a post from 2017, so you’ll see “recent” references to things that happened that year. But rewriting it is thanks to a great Twitter conversation that I had with friends @BudgetsAreSexy and @RomeoJeremiah. (Come see me on Twitter!)
This whole thing started when Romeo asked what people would put in their dream house, which turned into a conversation about why have money if you can’t enjoy it. Which is a totally fair and valid point! I do enjoy being able to spend when it makes sense to me.
My contribution to the conversation was that money is way more important to me when it lets me show up for people than when I spend it on me. (I really didn’t intend to sound self-righteous when I wrote it, but it does sort of feel that way when I read it now. So please know that wasn’t my intent.)
Anyway, we had a good chat about it. And it’s true. Money gives you choices, and one of those choices is to support the people you love.
Money Lets You Show Up
Back to my 2017 story:
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. (Update note: He’s now 100. Marines are tough, y’all.)
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 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.
Money Lets You Continue Showing Up
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 his house to go 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.
Living Far Away Is Hard!
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 the people we love. We’ve needed to use this financial flexibility more than a handful of times over the years, and I am always thankful that I can focus on the situation at hand and not stress out about the $$ side of things.
What Does This Mean To You?
If I were you, I’d be thinking, “Nice story, but I’m not in your situation.” Which is fair enough. Everyone has a different life story, and our personal money goals should be based around US, not what someone else says or thinks.
The power of goals, though – that is universal. We all do better when we have a solid goal that has emotion behind it. Having a goal to be able to afford six airfares and a minivan rental (in Florida!) was a powerful tool when we were learning to get our money in order. It might be a good goal for you, too. Think about it, and see if you want to add it to your list.
2017 reinforced what financial health means to me, and its a lesson I keep having the opportunity to learn. For me, financial health means being able to focus on people, not money. Consider whether that’s a priority for you, too.
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