Any time someone writes a blog that has to do with finance and economics, the tendency may be to think that the most important thing in life is money. But really, in my thinking, money is a tool that finds meaning when used toward other aspects of life: things like family; developing your own purpose in life; spending time with those you love; and making contributions of time, energy, and resources to worthy causes. Each of us can probably add to this list.
Stanley Bing, author and columnist for Fortune Magazine, echoes these thoughts. "Look. Throughout the course of human history, life on earth has been a struggle, a disappointment to most, a tragedy to some, a triumph to a few. But for most of us, the small things in life make it worthwhile" [Stanley Bing, Fortune magazine, July 21, 2008]. Of course, the small things are not so small. Seeing your child take her first steps. Or graduate from college. Chaperoning your young teen on his first "date." Taking time to enjoy a simple home-cooked meal with the family. Playing catch in the back yard. Enjoying an afternoon at the museum.
Nothing replaces these times and experiences. No amount of money in the world. But money can help make them happen. And lack of it can prevent them. A father may not live to see his youngest daughter graduate college, but enough life insurance can make it possible that she will graduate instead of having to drop out due to lack of funds. It makes it possible for a surviving spouse and children to take time to enjoy a home cooked meal, instead of the spouse having to work two jobs to support the family.
This is what economic responsibility boils down to for me: making sure that priceless experiences can still happen for those you love, whether you are around or not.