The sister of one of my best friends went off the deep end in college. We will call her Trinity. She got caught up in the wrong crowd, made some bad decisions, and ended up dropping out of college. The direction that Trinity ended up going was really distressing to her parents. The crazy part? They blamed it on the college that she attended.
This was completely ironic, because she originally wanted to go to a different college, which aligned more closely to her parents’ values. You know why they didn’t send her there? It cost too much. Whether this was true or not, they said that if they could jump into a time machine, go back, and send Trinity to the other college … they would do it in a heartbeat. This is a lesson on making sure our life goals play nice with our financial goals.
We have to keep the right perspective
Building wealth is important. Hell, two-thirds of my posts on my website deal with building wealth. However, I didn’t forget the other part, which is making sure we live a life well lived. After all, what’s the point in building wealth anyway?
It is not uncommon, though, that we let frugality cut so deep that we begin to forget the perspective we should be maintaining. Let me give you an example from my life:
My wife (an elementary school teacher) is determined to get my daughter out of her current school by third grade. The reason is unimportant, but suffice it to say that is important, and I agree with my wife. The school has a very important change that takes place in third grade, which we feel will negatively impact her education. My daughter is currently in the second semester of 1st grade. So, if we want her in a different school by third grade, then that gives us a year and a half.
But I’ve also always said that I want to be out of debt before we buy the next house. So, what am I to do? We have a little less than $140,000 left to pay off. For a while, I felt like we had to make a choice between my daughter’s education and our financial success. That was not a fun place for me to be. What is a dad to do?
Put the big things first
Don’t think for a second that I would sacrifice my daughter’s education for a little financial security. Fortunately, we can often achieve the goals that make both our head (finances) and our heart happy. I made the decision to pick up a few extra shifts and perform some expert witness legal work on the side to help supplement my income.
This way, we will be able to pay off our debt by the time my daughter needs to be in a new school.
In doing this, I am accomplishing the compromise between our heart values and financial values; or our life goals and financial goals. However, this has taken and will continue to take planning and intentional decisions. It will not happen by chance, and it requires our financial goals to “play nice” with our life goals.
Living the moderately frugal life
One of my first posts on this site discussed the moderately frugal life. While my saving habits and investment options may change, my view that the right life is the moderately frugal life will not. I think it is incredibly important for so many reasons to make the head and the heart happy, and to not forget that this can be done. You don’t always have to choose between financial success and happiness in life.
“The Physician Philosopher” is an anesthesiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, The Physician Philosopher.
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