1. Wonderful piece. This actually goes very well with a post that I am writing this week about keeping money in perspective. Money can do some very powerful things in this world. But it’s also very true that money isn’t everything. We should not judge people based on their net worth. I celebrate money victories because it tends to keep me motivated and determined to achieve the next milestone, but it is always wise to remain grounded in the fact that money is just a tool – no more, no less. It’s nice to have, of course, but life is much more than your collection of $1 bills. 🙂

  2. I love this post! It’s so true – money is only one part of the picture in many ways. But we can help make a difference by giving our time instead. I’ve posted before about how even if I can only afford to put $5 toward a cause, I will, but I’m also a huge fan of using other resources to do fundraising and in general, raise awareness about a cause. Volunteering is a great way to help out when money is tight, but you still want to be generous. (Also, you sound like such an amazing teacher! Those students are lucky to have you.)

    • You’re too sweet. We should all take a lesson from you. It’s incredible to watch your creativity when it comes to supporting different causes. Maybe next year I’ll join your virtual run!

  3. This was an incredibly inspirational read. There is so much more than what your net worth dictates. As much as I save for myself, a lot of my goals are focused towards bettering my family & others that I have no relation to whether it’s donating my time, energy, or money. The influence of giving & contribution can positively grow when you believe it can. I am more than my money or debt because I make proactive choices to live intentionally & help others do so in the process. Thank you for this!

  4. Well, we’re more than our money in that we’re incredibly geeky. That’s something… right?

    But seriously, I remember the days I needed food stamps. I wasn’t physically able to cook much, so I tended to buy convenience food. And I dreaded pulling out my EBT card because I thought everyone was judging me for wasting their tax dollars. I knew I was more than someone one welfare, but I’m still not sure judge-y strangers figure out that sort of thing.

  5. It’s so common for people to be complex and yet try to view others through a single lens. To do it more accurately, use a kaleidoscope! We’re more than our money, we’re the good (or bad) work that we do in the world. We’re our relationships. We’re the ideas that spark change, or the rocks that provide a foundation for someone to grow, we’re the people we help.

    We are the sum of many parts, and we have the choice, everyday, to pick the best parts that fit into our lives and our narratives.
    It’s incredibly limiting to be defined through someone else’s single lens and I hope that we always remember that!

    • Absolutely. Humans are so terrifically complex, I’m not sure why we constantly try to box people in and boil them down. We do it to ourselves, too.

  6. This is such a good reminder. While I know that my financial situation isn’t representative of who I am, it can be tough to remember that because in my particular situation, I know I could have made much better choices at a lot of different points. So it’s easy to start attaching value judgments to my decisions (e.g. “Oh, I took out those loans when I was in school because I was too lazy to get a second job, and that’s proof that I’m a lazy/bad person”). But of course that’s a huge oversimplification.

    • Ah, yes. It is very easy to second guess when you have the benefit of hindsight. My husband made bigger financial missteps than I did growing up, and I constantly try to talk him through it. It’s done, it’s over. You learn from it and move on. Of course, it is so much easier said than done, but nothing is ever as simple or clear cut as it seems in hindsight.

  7. YES! YES! YES! My husband and I realized once we met other married couples trying to get through college that we were rare and lucky that we were raised in middle class homes by small business owners that taught us solid basic financial principles. We knew how credit cards worked. And we were able to graduate without debt. Some of that was hard work, but a lot of that was luck, opportunity, and the teachings of our fathers. And I agree entirely that money is not the only resource available. Time is much more valuable.

    • You are so right! I tell my parents that all the time – they were generous with their money when they could afford to be (and sometimes even when they couldn’t really afford to be). More than that, though, they helped me develop a basic understanding of finances. That will pay dividends my whole life.

  8. I think it’s really easy to get overly wrapped up in money and let it define you. I’ve noticed it even more the longer I blog that there are times when I have to consciously step back and remind myself of it.

  9. I LOVE this post, Penny. Every word of it. Thank you.

    There is so much privilege in the PF space that goes unacknowledged, and we’re so quick to congratulate ourselves for making all of these great “decisions,” without thinking about all the ways that society puts some people in the position to make good decisions, while keeping those same choices out of reach for so many. While there are definitely financially literate and financially illiterate people, there’s so much more to it than that, and judging one another will never get us anywhere.

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