If you’ve read our mission statement, you know that our goal at Fruclassity is to try and find a balance between financial responsibility/security and living a life well-led.
I’ve been poking around today on some of the “extreme” personal finance sites, and on some of them, money and financial security definitely seem to be the top priority in their lives. While I won’t argue for a moment that financial responsibility is vitally important to the safety and security of one’s family, we also need to be careful to not let money become more important than family.
Finding the Balance
Finding this balance in life can be difficult, especially when there is debt to be paid off. And this is when it’s important to think before you sell, move or drop an expense.
One of my commenters on The Frugal Farmer said one time, “We have finally paid off all of our debt (at nearly sixty years old), and you know what? Looking back I wouldn’t change most of it. The debt allowed us to put our kids through good (private) schools, and to enroll them in opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise (he was speaking of activities). It allowed us to ……….” on and on he went about how the good things they spent money on had really enriched their lives.
While Jim was giddy with excitement at having become debt free, he was also highly grateful for the money they spent on family vacations, on good educations and on other things that brought enrichment to his family members’ lives.
Now, I’m not at all advocating using personal enrichment as an excuse for spending above your means. However, I am advocating that as a person or family works their way out of debt (and it is important to be dumping debt with some effort; not just making the minimum payments) that they think carefully about which expenditures are of true value and importance to their lives, and which are not.
For instance, that weekly dinner our at the fine restaurant for date night can easily be duplicated at home for a fourth of the price while the kids are kept occupied with a movie or at grandma’s house or with friends for a babysitting exchange night. That, like Ruth’s recent vacation, is Fruclassity.
However, selling your family’s beloved dog in order to cut down on expenses should be thought over very carefully, as a decision like that can have devastating effects on kids and other family members. If it comes down to feeding your kid or feeding your dog, that’s one thing, but if it’s simply a matter of finding other places to make cuts (like cutting cable TV or selling a new car to drive an older one) then you need to weigh the effects of your decisions.
We’ve had our own struggles with finding this balance. Months of $200 grocery maximums seem like a great idea at the time, until we see the looks on the faces of our four kids (which we wouldn’t trade for any amount of financial independence) as they eat rice and beans for the umpteenth time in one month. Although they rarely complain about our strict budget, their despondent eyes show us that our priorities are out of whack when we get too extreme and put saving money above things that hold much more value in life – namely them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that life is not all about getting rich. Money is a tool that was created to get us the things we need and want in life, and balancing spending in the name of financial responsibility and security is important. But being so set on achieving millionaire status that you’re willing to live life in a way that puts saving money at the top of your priority list, above the cares and concerns of your family, is dangerous.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” -1 Timothy 6:10
The mission of Fruclassity is to teach the practice of wise financial management and debt payoff while still making your God, your family and your life the top priority. Money should be way down on the priority list, yet still managed in a way that promotes fiscal responsibility for the sake of the family.
Money is meant to help the family live their best life; Family is not here as a roadblock to personal financial wealth.
So, when making your financial independence plan, remember to start by assessing your true priorities and keep them in order. Think ahead about what you want your life to reflect when you are really old and the hairs on your head are white as snow. I’m betting you’ll pick family over money any day.
Have you ever struggled with putting too much of a priority on money? Or not enough of a priority?