Your Money or Your Life?

If you read the news with any regularity, you’ll often see stories of lives gone wrong – or ending – due to a person or persons being unable to continue living with their high debts and other financial messiness.

People often hurt themselves and/or their families – and in some cases even total strangers – when they become too overwhelmed with a bad money situation. 

This last week in NYC there was yet another terrible tragedy of a mother and father taking their own lives and leaving behind children and other loved ones due to having gotten into an unmanageable financial situation.

It’s Just Not Worth it

My dearest readers, no matter how bad your money situation is, it certainly isn’t worth the end of your life or the lives of others. However, if you are giving money too much power over your life, you may temporarily feel otherwise.

When Rick and I were at our deepest debt levels (having consumer debt nearly equal to our annual salary plus a bloated mortgage that brought our DTI up to nearly 70%) I can promise you: we were severely overwhelmed. We know what it’s like to be looking at a financial picture that seems like it has no way out and no escape from the daily race of trying to keep ahead of creditors and pay the bills.

Your Money or Your Life? Choose Life!

As we dealt with the oft-overwhemling feelings of our horrible financial situation, it sometimes did seem like it would be easier to just run away – or worse. However, we were able to conquer these feelings with one simple exercise.

Envisioning the future.

First, envision the future if your financial situation didn’t improve and you had to file bankruptcy and everyone in the world knew (which they probably won’t and don’t have to) that you were a complete and total financial failure.

What’s the worst case scenario?

  • you’d lose your house
  • you’d have to move to a crummier part of town
  • everyone would whisper, laugh and gossip about you
  • people would abandon you

I’ll tell you right now, if there are people in your life who will abandon you as you deal with a tough financial situation – even if the situation is self-induced – they don’t deserve your friendship in the first place. Cut them loose, move on and make better friends who are loyal to you even when you struggle.

As for losing your house and “status” and having to face the music that you’re not as prominent as you appear, let me tell you that cutting loose of that illusion has the potential to be one of THE most freeing things you’ll ever do. Once you rid yourself of the fear of the Joneses and their opinions, you’ll be free to live life on your own terms and not based on the opinions of people who don’t really care about you anyway.

So what will likely be very difficult at the outset as your “big reveal” shocks people around you who thought you were doing well will be, in the end, a great relief of stress that comes with the liberty to live life without the stress of financial mess.

Second – and most important: envision the impact a choice to end your life or the lives of those around you will have on THEM. Yes, it’s time to stop thinking about yourself for five seconds and start focusing on those who love you.

Friends, I’m not trying to sound harsh, but having had to deal with the immense pain of loved ones who take their own lives I can tell you that no money or any other material thing is worth the devastation this kind of act brings to those around you.

Also, having dealt with severe clinical depression for 7 straight years, I can tell you there is a way out – but it starts with getting the focus off of yourself and on to others. Focus on your loved ones, or focus on others by helping people in need.

The popular book, “Your Money or Your Life” helps people learn to transform their relationship with money so that THEY control their money instead of having their money control them.

Whether you choose to read the book or not, know that no money problems, no matter how large, are more important than your life. There are people around you who love you very much and care for you immensely. And bonus: there’s a God in heaven who loves you completely, totally and unconditionally – even if no one else does.

And to those of you who know someone who is struggling with money problems, ask them if they are doing okay and if they would like help with budgeting and money management. Let them know that you are there for them when they are ready and that no money problems will ever change your love for them.

If you’re struggling financially, focus on your future and not your current money problems. Make a plan to get your money situation well – even if that means you have no other choice but to resort to bankruptcy and selling your house.

There’s a much better life waiting for you on the other side of financial failure – if you’re willing to step out and take it.

20 comments on “Your Money or Your Life?

  1. The story out of NYC was heartbreaking. It’s such a reminder of the general money help that is still needed out there for many people. There are so many steps you can take when feeling overwhelmed. Seek knowledge, ask for help, get professional advice, etc.

    1. I know – SO sad. Especially for the children involved. There is still so much pressure in society to have, do and be “the best”. Unfortunately, it’s putting people in serious bondage. 🙁

  2. Oh my. I didn’t know about that story out of New York. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those left behind. There are other, better ways to deal with financial stress, no doubt. I think as a society, we tend to give money way too much power over our lives.

    1. “we tend to give money way too much power over our lives.” SO true, Amanda!!! It’s so sad when things like money have such a hold on precious lives.

  3. That reminds me I need to put that book back on my digital requests through the library! I was on vacation the last time it was available and missed my window.

    I can empathize with that feeling of having no vision of a better future but thankfully I plodded along anyway. I don’t even want to imagine what that couple felt to take such drastic action. It’s sad, too, that in a time of internet resources that can allow us to be anonymous while working through our issues, there are people who feel this isolated.

    1. Good to hear from you, Kat! It is SO sad. You’re right – there are too many resources. Hoping more people look for them instead of taking such drastic measures.

  4. I read that story when it came out and just wondered why at least one of them didn’t stop the whole thing and realize how it would affect their children for the rest of their lives. So sad. Excellent points Laurie. Your article may just save a life.

  5. I love the “Your Money and Your Life” book and philosophy!

    And this: “there’s a God in heaven who loves you completely, totally and unconditionally – even if no one else does”

    It is so important to keep the problems or headaches of life in perspective 🙂

  6. What happened to that family is a tragedy. People suffering with debt and other money issues need to know that there is a way out. It takes time and effort, but it’s not worth risking your life over. Thank you for tackling this difficult subject.

    1. “It’s not worth risking your life over.” Exactly. It is a really tough subject to tackle, but there has been SO many stories like this in the last couple of years I just felt like I had to address it. People give money and status way too much power over their lives.

  7. I didn’t know about the NYC story either until reading this post. It really is sad to take and lose a life over money.
    At my former job when I supervised a few people that had money problems, I had passed along some similar advice. To seek outside help by reading a book, talking to somebody, or even joining a church to find direction in life (outside of work).

  8. Oh I feel sick after reading about that New York couple. I just looked up the story after reading your post. There was no cry for help there. I can see why you wrote the “worst case scenario” part. They were clearly so horrified at the thought of being “outed”. Strangely, I was really struck by their ages: 50 and 53. When DH and I started our journey out of debt, we were 49 and 53. Too late? No!! I wish we could sit down with this couple and offer them hope.

  9. When I read that story, I just thought, “What selfish assholes…” I’m probably biased having gone through a suicide in my immediate family, but seriously, they talked each other into both abandoning their kids, which will lead them to question their self worth the rest of their lives in ways like, “Why did they choose to leave us over money? Were we not worth the work to get out of debt?”


    The sad part is that while they chose suicide to “not be outed” or seen as financial failures among their inner circle, now they’re infamous and will probably forever be a reference point to “don’t let your debt get you to this point.” I mean, it’s just mind boggling.

    For God’s sake, it’s only money. Over that, they decided it wasn’t worth seeing their kids grow up, play sports, learn to drive, get married, grandkids or any of that? I’m just dumbfounded.

    I’ve been at that point before when I was really depressed and realize that you have blinders on to what the true ramifications of that action will be. But still… Just dumbfounded.

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