This week, The Simple Dollar is running a short series on some of the key moments in my financial turnaround and how you can experience those moments as well. For a full description of this, see the first article in the series.
At the low point of my personal finance situation, I spent a long night sitting with my infant son in a dark room, wondering what would happen next. It was during that night that I realized I was failing that poor child and that I needed to start making better decisions with my life.
It wasn’t just my son, though, that convinced me to follow a different path. My wife played a huge role, as did the children we had later on. My close friends played a big role, as did my parents.
It was the sum of all of those relationships that pushed me to make some major changes in my life. It was not a matter of wanting to disappoint them or to make them proud. It was my desire to always hold up my own end of the bargain that was my relationship with each of them.
Bankruptcy and financial despair did not equate to me holding up my end of those bargains.
Who Do You Love?
The real value of this understanding came from looking seriously at my life. Who were the people that genuinely cared for me? Who were the people that I was genuinely responsible for? In other words, who were the core people in my life that I truly loved and who truly loved me, and what did that really mean?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? What does it mean to have someone out there that you really care for – and that really cares for you? Your parents. Your spouse. Your children. Your closest friends. What does that relationship actually call you to do in your own life?
As I thought about each of the key people in my life, I began to see that, over and over again, improving myself improved my relationships with each of those people.
Improving my financial situation helped me to provide for my children and helped me to make a better life for my wife. It also helped me to add to the long-term sense of security felt by my parents.
I could make similar statements about various other aspects of life, from improving my own health, improving my own attitude and social skills, and so on. In each case, self-improvement led to better relationships.
How do you start down that path? Put aside a moment and make a list of the people you genuinely love – and you know genuinely love you. It might be a long list, or it might be a very short one. In either case, simply write down those names.
Now, look at each of those names and think to yourself how that relationship is improved simply by your improvements in managing your finances. You’ll be surprised how many good things simply come from this one personal change. You can also look at that list through the eyes of any other personal improvements you want to make.
For me, I found great value in putting pictures of those loved ones in key places, like taped to the bottom of the rearview mirror in my car or wrapped around my credit cards. Seeing those images would remind me of my relationships to these people – and how those relationships benefit from sensible personal finance choices from me.