A common question here in the United States when meeting new people is “What do you do?” There’s a comfortable familiarity people in America have with asking what others jobs are as they are often very intertwined around our identities. In other parts of the world, like the UK or the Netherlands, asking what someone’s job is can be considered quite rude, and not a proper conversation starter to get to know someone. But here, we pour so much of our heart and soul into work and unfortunately tying that to status, our paycheck, and the stuff we can buy with it. But one book helped wrangle those ideals in an unexpected way which changed my outlook on what a job meant to me and my family.
I had heard of Dave Ramsey from family, friends, and scanning AM radio while I was spending time on a long commute that came with a new job. But it wasn’t until I got Financial Peace Revisited that I realized how much of my self worth I had mixed up with my work. I spent years putting in extra hours and trying to search for a job that would “just pay me a bit more” because I had debt, a family that I wanted to provide more for, and “stuff” I just wanted to get for myself.
Those years of extra work turned into a few years of intense focus on paying down debt and carefully budgeting to save more. This was a huge family decision to have a serious budget. We decided to no longer just “know” where our money was going, but to “tell” our money where it should go. It took four years, but we paid off all debts that were not our mortgage. This paid dividends in other ways soon after that.
The peace of not having additional monetary stress on our family meant we could save for things like vacations, cars, and other of life’s creature comforts. But it also meant that once I found a job that had great benefits, other incidental positives, and a wonderful culture, I didn’t have to leave it because I thought we would need a bigger number in our bank account. And when my focus on my job switched from one of trying to elevate myself to get a big raise to doing my best and improving myself, my satisfaction increased greatly.
But the biggest benefit of it all meant that my wife could do one thing she had dreamed of, staying home while our kids are young and spending more time volunteering to help others. Not having to worry about running out of cash or living paycheck to paycheck did so much to improve both our mentality around the house and my mindset at work.
I can’t stress it enough, this book so greatly changed our financial outlook for the future with some really straightforward, but necessary hard work.
- This is the second book I’ve discussed this week, please read the first post here on The Phoenix Project.