A Sick Child or a Mountain of Money

My children have been sick for most of the week, so I’ve been sticking to old reliable meals that I can make with my eyes closed rather than being adventurous. That means no new “Dinner with My Family” post this week. Tune in next week for a new one, though!

A few days ago, my two oldest children were extremely ill. They were both deep in that type of lethargy that young children get when they’re feverish with an illness. They largely don’t move unless they urgently need to go to the bathroom. They don’t like their rest to be interrupted. If you give them some Tylenol, they might rebound a bit for a while, but they’ll soon go back to resting.

During the day when they were the sickest, I spent the day in the family room with them, doing things like making sure their water bottles were full, keeping blankets near them, fluffing their pillows, reading them stories, watching movies with them, making them chicken noodle soup, and so on.

There was never any question about my job when I was doing this. I dropped my work so that I could be there for my children without a second thought. Better yet, I had the freedom to do so.

My priority in life is to be the best father I can possibly be, period. That priority comes first. I’ve always wanted it to come first. After that, my priority is to be a great husband, supportive of my wife in whatever she chooses to do, whether it’s take several months off to be a stay-at-home mother or to throw herself back into her career with passion. Beyond that? Be a good writer. Be a good friend. Grow as a person.

Notice how none of these priorities are about earning a ton of money?

Setting these things as my priorities means making less money than I could. It also meant walking away from a job that I loved that often put me in conflict with that first priority.

Personal finance is just a set of tools that enable me to have these priorities. Earning more money or maximizing every dollar is not the end goal for me. It’s a means to an end. Because I practice good finances in my own life, I have the freedom to just drop my work and be there for my family when they need me. I don’t have to make a choice. I don’t have to worry about a boss that might fire me for not working enough. I don’t have to choose my job over my family.

Yes, I don’t have the income I might wish that I had. However, I have the priorities and the freedom that are a higher priority for me, and thanks to good personal finance practices, I’m not starving, either. A mountain of money is not the goal I have in my life. Being a good father is. Being a good husband is. Being a writer is.

Personal finance is not the answer. It is a tool that helps you on your journey to whatever it is you want for your life.

Right now, as I sit here, my daughter is dozing on the couch. She still doesn’t feel well. However, she requested that I sit here next to her while she sleeps. Her left foot is draped over my shoulder right now, actually.

She feels safe. She knows that I will be there to take care of her. When she wakes up, she can sleepily ask me for some water and she knows that I’ll be there to get it for her.

As she grows up, I’ll be there as she learns how to ride a bicycle. I’ll be there as she learns about boys. I’ll be there to feed and nurture her intellectual curiosity. I’ll be there as she (hopefully) grows from a charming young girl into an amazing young woman ready to take on the world.

Good personal finance choices make all of this possible.

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