What A Sick Child Taught Me About Personal Finance

This past weekend, my toddler-aged son got terribly ill. He spent two days being shaky, vomiting on a nearly hourly basis, sleeping, laying around lethargically, and basically being completely miserable. As I held him, my mind wandered through my various feelings for him and for the situation we were in, and I realized a few things that I thought were worth sharing.

Time spent with my family is more valuable than any amount of money. I hear stories about families in which people are driven in their careers to the point that they no longer have time for their family, abandoning them largely to the care of others. For me, spending time each day with my son is worth more than any amount of money, to the point that I no longer wish to travel if he’s not along for the trip. My wife and my son are my real net worth, not the dollars in my account.

Relationships exceed money. Of the relationships central to my life, there is no possible way to express their value in monetary terms. There is no amount of money that I would take in exchange for them or for the relationship that I share with them.

Medical insurance is well worth every dime we spend on it. As sick as he was, I never once had to worry about money or anything at all – my focus was exclusively on caring for him. Health insurance may be pricey, but it’s there for you when you need it.

Money is merely a way to complement these values. It’s great that I’ve learned to manage my finances, but only in the respect that it assures many things that will make my family’s life more secure and more fulfilling. To me, money in a college savings plan and money in a strong retirement plan and money for long-term savings is far more valuable than just the face value that it holds – it guarantees a healthy future for this little boy.

Today, take a few moments to think of the people you love and your relationships with them and ask yourself if the choices you’re making really reflect how valuable those relationships are to you.

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  1. Great post! I hope little Joe is feeling better now!

  2. breadman says:

    Thanks for the re-centering on the right kind of values. Your point that “relationships far exceed money” is an important one. The lure of more wealth is not just terrible on friendships and marriages, but who knows the kind of impact it has on kids.

  3. Kevin Von Qualen says:

    That was my all-time favorite post :)

  4. Good point about, well, everything. It’s funny how people don’t want to shell out the dough for health insurance, but they’ll go into mounds of debt for a new car or furniture or something.

    And while government health insurance sounds like a good idea – there are waiting lines to even get treated for cancer in countries like Canada. Some cancers that could have been cured when first diagnosed grow to an incurable point by the time they’re treated.

    Health insurance is expensive but worthwhile.

  5. Erica says:

    Hope your son is better soon. And congrats on the book thing.

  6. Chris says:

    here, here…

    Having just gone through a similar experience with my 10-month-old, I whole-heartedly agree.

    p.s. Watch out dude, you’re next. Take it from somebody who spent a Thursday with my sick baby, and then the following Friday night yakking my guts out.

  7. plonkee says:

    I’d just like to defend government funded healthcare by saying that never having to even consider the cost of healthcare regardless of your income is priceless to us (in the UK).

    Its true though that the waiting lists can be horrendous (not for cancer though, more like hip replacements). Nothing is perfect, but I’m happy with the choice that we made (and I’m sure you’re all happy with yours).

  8. I have a toddler aged son too, and I feel that everything we do is for him and our other kid. I completely share your feelings on this. Whenever anyone gets sick it’s like time (and everything) stops. I hope your son is better.

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