Updated on 02.24.11

Eight Minutes to Financial Success – Minute #7: Who Do You Love?

Trent Hamm

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.

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  1. Sheila says:

    I keep a picture of our dog in my wallet, but not to curb impulse spending. I keep it as a reminder to spend my time wisely, and to spend more of my time with the ones I love.

    We lost our dear dog at 15 years and — as the recent earthquake in Christchurch reminds me — I never know when I will lose someone I love. None of us ever looks back and says, “Gee, I wish I’d spent more time shopping.”

  2. Jeanette says:

    One’s loved ones can be both an inspiration and incentive to mindfully make healthy decisions and create a life that better reflects one’s true purpose.

    However, as we look around, we see many people who do, in their way, love their families but are still making choices (or doing nothing) that create real challenges in their life, or who fail to deal with the life they are given in healthy ways.

    Loving is important (who wants to be human and NOT love others?) but when it comes to creating change in one’s life, it is often the love we receive from others that helps us to do what we must to turn our lives around.

    It isn’t just Who do you love? But also, who loves you.

    And of course, in some cases (can we say Charlie Sheen), even having people who love you and support you is not enough.

    It also comes down to whether you love yourself (in a healthy not egotistical way) and feel you are “worthy” of a good life.

    So much of life is self-sabotage, which is often derived from feelings of unworthiness (Look hard at overspenders and those with discipline on spending and you’ll see that the former often have very low self-esteem while the latter have it in sufficient quantities to create a life they want, no matter what).

    So. First, love yourself, and extend that love to others. Then, open yourself to receive love and support.

    A lot easier said than done because for all the talk about love in the world, people can be extremely stingy if not outright hoarders with it.

    I think often of the many teachers I had over the years who loved their work, loved their students and the difference they made–especially for the many kids who came from many tough environments. (I have a friend now who runs programs for high school kids from very tough backgrounds. You cannot imagine in how many ways these kids bask in his love, attention and interest. Love is just a word until you back it up with attention, interest and interaction.)

    I agree with Trent that we should keep our loved ones in mind. We should also look out in the world and realize that everyone we encounter can benefit from our attention and respect. Individuals can and do make a huge difference in life.

  3. LeahGG says:

    I think this should have been the first post of this series. Loved ones and long-term goals are the *WHY* of the change, and the WHY is the first step. Imagine two people who are 250 lbs. One says “I look bad in this dress, I should lose weight.”
    The other says “My cholesterol is high, my blood sugar is high, I’m damaging my heart. If I don’t lose weight, I’m not going to see my children grow up.”
    Which one is more likely to stick to it? Especially if they keep replaying the same message every day in their minds.

    To me, at least, the idea of not meeting my grandchildren ever is a lot more motivation than the idea of looking fat in the next family photo or even of being called fatty (which has happened to me recently.)

  4. christine a says:

    Seconding Jeanette, particularly on self-sabotage derived from feelings of unworthiness.

  5. Kandace@pantrydiva says:

    Shouldn’t it be “Whom do you love?”

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