This week I'm excited to share with you a guest post from one of my favorite personal finance coaches, educators, and bloggers: Michelle Boss (aka The Money Boss). Michelle and I met while she was creating her Your Money Matters podcast series this spring. I was privileged to be a part of this series with so many other wonderful financial educators and coaches. I asked Michelle to share how she's connecting her money and her values to create a fulfilling life. I'm excited for you to hear a new perspective and get connected to all of Michelle's great resources. Join me in welcoming Michelle Boss to the Classy Frugalist blog!
I’ll admit I have not directly shared much of my intimacies around money, until now. Thank you, Grace, for the encouragement to share this piece of my story! It’s been a pleasure to more deeply examine what money means to me, and connect it to my values.
What I’ve learned I value the most about money over the years is the freedom and choice it gives.
When my son and daughter were babies and toddlers - a challenging time for every parent - I recall advice from more experienced parents. “Enjoy it now, they’ll be grown in the blink of an eye.” Yes, I would nod and agree. I understood that advice conceptually, but could not relate. I was a full-time working mom in my mid-twenties. While I relished the leave time from work when my children were born, I returned to the daily commute and grind without hesitation. The break from parenting was welcomed.
A double doozy hit, however, with the 2009 Recession and Swine Flu epidemic. Drop off at daycare was already a torturous daily routine. My daughter cried desperately with each separation...every day...for over a year. It was heart-wrenching. My husband at the time was in construction. When he was laid off, the next decision was easy.
Thankfully we were in the habit of living below our means. I had a job that could support our family. We had the luxury to make a big change in what I truly felt in my heart was for the betterment of my first-born. We decided to pull my daughter out of pre-school. My husband gladly stayed home with her as a stay-at-home dad.
To be able to do that for our family was empowering. I was able to support us. That was all due to the power of earning, being responsible with our personal finances and living below our means. I had the choice to make my heart’s desire a reality. The freedom to make that choice was priceless.
Financial independence gave me the freedom and strength to leave an unhealthy situation.
Fast forward a few years and my son and daughter were both home with Dad. By this time, the struggles that were present at the beginning of our marriage were taking their toll. Compounded by the stress of two children under the age of 5, it came to a point where heart-to-hearts and no amount of counselling was going to repair the dysfunctional relationship and environment we were struggling with day in and day out.
While the pain, effort and stress of a split family was not a pattern I wanted to repeat from my childhood, I also realized that not making a change would be detrimental to all of us. It was an unhealthy and toxic situation. Divorce was inevitable. We started the process of separating.
We were fortunate to agree to use a mediator, and had a relatively short divorce proceeding. There was still plenty to stress over, negotiate and navigate. Moving to a different town, attending mediation sessions and ensuring my daughter finished her Kindergarten year out in the same school, all while keeping my bread-winning job 30 miles away was a challenge.
We made it through, of course, and I thank God that I was financially independent in my marriage. Unlike so many women who feel trapped by an unhappy, or unhealthy relationship due to financial dependence, I had options. We were also fortunate that we did not end up with debt, bad credit or huge legal fees, as is very common with divorce. Had I not had the strong foundation and financial strength to leave that unhealthy situation, not only would my life be completely different, I may not even be here today.
I owe my health and mind to money freedom.
Money has allowed me to: provide the best self-care possible to myself, be able to provide comfortably for my family, have the ability to vote with my dollars for the companies and products I believe are in alignment with my personal values, and have the ability to take advantage of business and travel opportunities I would not otherwise have taken.
Beyond materialism, wants and needs, money provides choice and freedom. It holds the potential of empowerment that each and every one of us can experience through our relationship with money. Each and every one of us has the ability to use money with integrity to be powerful and enabled in our own lives.
While personal finances ebb and flow, no matter what may come up, money represents to me one of the deepest and most coveted rights and values: FREEDOM. The choices that have been possible for me because of money are priceless.
The Ultimate Freedom
While, I believe that generosity involves much more than the giving away of money, having financial resources also allows aligning giving goals with action. Money makes supporting others and organizations, creating endowments and leaving a generational legacy of wealth all possible, if you choose to do so.
Money helps me fulfill my purpose, participate in the world and reach my dreams - which to me is the ultimate in freedom. Aligning my values and lifestyle with my life’s highest purpose has been possible because of the freedom of choice money has afforded.
Michelle Boss, aka The Money Boss, is a Personal Finance Coach and Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is passionate about helping people with their financial education, money behaviors and reaching financial freedom. She is also committed to making a difference in the lives of young people through financial literacy initiatives. Learn more about what she does at: www.themoneyboss.org.