Every day I see people make some pretty difficult choices– the choice to either enter or leave a marriage is not easy, and it is my job to make sure people understand how these choices will impact them (and their finances) not just now, but in the future.
The choices we make all have pros and cons, and it is important to think these through carefully and look not just at the short-term results, but rather the long-term consequences. Starting early on, we can all recognize that our studies will impact our career choices, and yet not everyone sees how those choices will have significant financial and emotional consequences not just for us in our adult lives, but our entire families.
Some of us have to make very harsh decisions early on. It was not easy for me to give up a life in the arts to pursue a legal career, but I did not want to be a starving artist. Being a dancer and gymnast was a lot of fun, but it had a limited shelf life. Given the choice of feeding my ego or feeding my family, the latter is what mattered most. Thankfully, 20 years later I have figured out a way to bring back my creative energy, but not everyone is that lucky, and the question we each must answer for ourselves with every major decision we make is this: can you live with this choice?
How we choose to share our resources (mainly our time and money) with those we let into our lives have a significant role in our enjoyment of life. I have repeatedly warned people that if they are not happy at work, it will affect their personal lives, and if you are not financially responsible, this too will catch up to you and cause havoc in your life. To achieve good “flow” you have to be at peace both at work and home– you can’t maintain a dual life, believe me I tried for years and it just doesn’t work.
The past few years, it has truly been an honor working with young minds– not just at the law schools, but even at my local grade school and middle school, where the past 2 years I have been a volunteer instructor for Junior Achievement teaching kids about fiscal responsibility and making smart life choices. And so it is with great joy the other day that a 12 year old girl asked me: how much money do you need to make to have a good life? My response was this: it all depends on how you define a good life.
Everything comes at a price, so just make sure it is a price you (and your loved ones) are willing and able to pay.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.