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Is Financial Security Your God?

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? 

20 comments on “Is Financial Security Your God?

  1. This is great stuff, Laurie! I think I’ve placed to much of a priority on our financial goals occasionally but, overall, I do well with balancing the important things. Family is our priority and, even if it slows financial progress, we’re always willing to spend on experiences for our kids. We spend intentionally and do our best not to sacrifice family time, vacations, or camping trips. The time we have with our kids at home is limited and it’s growing shorter each and every day.

    1. “Family is our priority, and even if it slows financial progress we’re always willing to spend on experiences for our kids.” Well done, Amanda!! They grow up so very fast. It’s important to form those memories while they’re still young.

  2. This is such a tough thing to balance. Management of money is not the same thing as “love” of money, and as long as it’s being managed to create a foundation for security and a springboard for supporting and giving, that management is a very good thing. There is a fuzzy line in there though – past which the goal is obsessive accumulation of wealth for its own sake. It can be SO hard to discern that line.

    1. So true, Ruth!! It can be a really fuzzy line and I think it’s important to have self-checks and make sure one isn’t not crossing the line.

      1. At the same time, I have to self-check in terms of that other fuzzy line – the one that justifies more spending than is necessary. So many lines to navigate!

  3. Certainly a balance. We dipped a little towards the extreme while paying off debt, but understood it was for a short period of time. I agree with Ruth, management is a good way to frame it. We didn’t even understand that for years, and now that we do still need to keep a close watch over it each and every day.

  4. It’s similar to the expression “Cutting your face off to save your nose.” There is a middle balance that needs to be found instead of going to the extreme. I have wanted to sell a couple things recently but haven’t pulled the trigger yet because they might be a little extreme. The extra money would be nice, but we are still living under our means and sticking with our planned monthly budget.

    My wife tells me that there still are some blessings to living in America. Even in Biblical times, Abraham & Job were blessed with great wealth and still walked upright as much as any human has before or since then.

  5. The extreme side of FIRE or even debt payoff was what drove me away from it for so long. I felt that I didn’t work really hard to finally be comfortable and get a good career and then walk away from it to clip coupons, dumpster dive, and tell the kids, “Sorry we can’t afford it.”

    After realizing we were already living well below our means, and it was more of a redirecting money for savings and our post career lives wouldn’t really change much is what made me get on board. Now we don’t buy things because I don’t want to “afford” them not because we feel like we have to.

    I think finding your comfort level with money, religion, family, whatever it is, is the key to being happy and doing what fits for you. The beauty of Personal Finance is that it’s personal. 🙂 Your plan and my plan, and every other commenter and blogger’s plan will work for them, but not necessarily anyone else.
    It’s just exposing people to the notion they don’t have to live the “status quo” of consumerism fueled by debt and keeping up appearances.

    There are other paths to walk out there and still be happy, comfortable and able to enjoy life without focusing on material things.

    1. Yes, yes!!!! And I think there is that same status quo in the world of PF as well. It’s easy to get caught up into not being as extreme as so-and-so and to feel guilty over that. Just like it’s easy to spend yourself into oblivion in order to keep up with the Joneses in one’s neighborhood. You have to be true to your own heart and not fall into a trap of fear of man.

  6. Great topic! I clearly remember a time when we would talk about saving money so much that it felt like an idol. Things felt out of balance, we rarely spent time talking about the blessings we had, and instead focused on squeezing every dollar to death. Once we realized what was happening, we choose to focus on the gratitude we felt for having enough income to live a comfortable, middle class lifestyle.

  7. My dad always coined awkward phrases, but one of his famous phrases was, “You need a nose for your priorities.”

    You can frequently smell that something is wrong long before you see or hear any evidence of it. To me, that’s how we ought to be with our priorities. We should feel free to move about throughout our day, but if we catch a whiff of something rotten we need to investigate it and figure out the problem.

    For example, if I find myself begrudging the giving line in my budget, I know something is rotten. But the same holds true If I have to question every item at the grocery store, If I get overly upset about getting ripped off, or if we save no money for a few weeks.

    You can’t systematize your sense of smell, but you can pay attention to it.

    1. Hannah, I think you and your dad are on to something! I like this “smelling out priorities” concept. It’s something you can sense before you even know what it is. Good stuff!

  8. You make such great points Laurie. Only living for tomorrow is a hollow endeavor. Figuring out how to enjoy life every day while working on money related goals is the true key to love and happiness, especially for the very short time that our children are home with us.

  9. This post expresses what we wrestle with all the time. We cannot let money, security, or any financial status such as wealth or “independence” become our primary goal or god. Rather, we want to entrust our finances to God while following His leadership in making financially and spiritually responsible choices.

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