I’m often asked why I’m so passionate about helping others manage their money well and most of the time I just give the answer about how I failed with money way back in my early adult life. And that answer is very much true – I am passionate about this because of my own stupidity and knowing what it feels like when you’re stumbling around in the dark and feel like you’re being suffocated by your financial issues.
But the other part of this answer is a much more deeply-rooted one. One that hurts. One that is even more personal than my own personal struggles with money.
I’ve watched someone that I love very dearly sink into that bottomless pit of financial hell. I’ve seen the heartbreak that happens when someone files bankruptcy. I’ve seen what happens when a true rags-to-riches story doesn’t have a happy ending.
I’ve seen it in ways that are hard for me because as someone who loves deeply and will always go to the extra mile for those I care about, watching this loved one of mine struggle so much and lose that battle with their money tore a hole in my heart.
Many years ago, my youth minister told a 16 year old Confirmation candidate that “leadership was like climbing a ladder”. The story he told has stuck with me ever since. And I do my best to live out that model that he impressed upon me all those years ago.
“Imagine you’re climbing a ladder and there are people climbing up above you and below you. A true leader isn’t afraid to pause on the ladder, reach down and help the person below them reach the next level, or bring them to the level they are currently on, or even help them climb higher then they are. But a true leader is also not afraid of taking hold of the hand above them and allowing the person above them to help them climb higher.”
That story has been with me ever since and it’s why it broke my heart so bad to not be able to help my love one out of their mess.Leadership is like climbing a ladder & stopping to help those below you climb higher. @jessifearonClick To Tweet
If you know me in real life, you know who this story is about and you also know why I’m being vague on sharing who this loved one is. If you don’t know me in real life, know that this person was very dear to me and watching their suffering was a difficult burden for me to bear. And if you’re noticing the past tense I’m using it’s because this person is now in our eternal home with our Savior.
This struggle is what has made me so passionate about helping others. Because even though I tried so hard and honestly, tried in vain to save this loved one of mine, there is literally nothing I could have done.
Because you can’t make anyone else do anything. You can’t control them – they are the ones with the power to control themselves. It took me a long time to understand that.
And honestly, many folks out there keep thinking that in order for things to change, they have to make more money; get a better job; that it’s all their spouses’/kids’/friends’/parents’ fault that they never have money or weren’t taught how to manage it. But the truth is, that change will never happen until we make it happen.
And if you can’t manage the money you have now well, it won’t matter if you end up making a CEO of a Fortune 500 company’s salary because you’ll still be broke.
I know because I watched it happen.
My loved one made over a half a million dollars a year and ended up bankrupt with no house to call their own. That was hard – it was hard for everyone involved to watch. This loved one of mine would give the shirt off their back to a person in need and in many ways their inability to say “no” to others led to the insurmountable amount of debt they had. But it was also due to a lack of managing their money well.
Why am I sharing this difficult story?
Because you need to hear it. You need to know that more money isn’t going to be the magic pill that fixes everything. It’s not. “Money just makes you more of what you are”. If you’re bad with money now, you’ll be bad with money when you have a lot of it.
You are the one that has to make the changes. Reading my or other personal finance blogs, reading books about money, attending seminars, and even taking money classes are not going to fix the problem by themselves – you have to be the one that takes action.
No one can make you do it – you have to be the one.
Hopefully this story will inspire you to take the actions that you need to today and know that I pray for everyone reading this that you have the courage to take the next step.
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