Money Problems Are All I Have

The caller ID showed an incoming call from the wife of a couple with which my wife and I are close friends. I answered the phone with a quickly forgotten  humorous remark as the voice on the other end was shaky, asking for a favor.  Our friend and her teenage daughter were having a huge argument and they needed a third party to step in and mediate the situation.

Our friends are working through marital issues, and have recently separated as they attempt to work through them. Their teenage daughter has taken it especially hard, and is very angry.   The 90 minutes following our arrival at their home included voices surging into screams,  and used tissues being strewn across the kitchen table.  At times, our friend cried so hard that she could barely breathe. Watching a family being ripped apart at the seams was an indescribable event I never wanted to witness, and it made my heart hurt.

In late 2009 my father was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, having his prostate removed the following February. His follow-up visits were encouraging as his PSA tests came back with the desired “undetectable” results. Unfortunately, recent tests have shown his PSA level again rising which could mean that there is still cancer in his body. His doctor is recommending that he begin radiation treatment as soon as possible.

The primary struggle in my adult life has been financial in nature.  I’ve laid awake at night staring at the ceiling for hours wondering how we were going to pay the next round of bills. I’ve looked at the balance of our checkbook wondering where the money was going to come from to buy groceries for the next week. It’s a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, and one that I hope to never again experience. But I’d take that feeling every single day of my life over the possibility of losing my family, or having to deal with a life threatening illness.

The truth is, I’ve never felt closer to my wife and my family than I do right now. I’m in love with Vonnie more now than I have been at any time in the more than 18 years that I’ve known her. I recently shared this with her,  to which she responded, “Yeah, you’ve been so wonderful, loving and patient lately… kind of worries me – like you’re trying to make up for something. ”

That statement also made me realize that I will never, ever fully understand the complexities of my wife’s female mind,  nor will I ever be able to “win.”  But maybe that’s the point, and why life is so much fun with her in my life.

Over the last year, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, exercised regularly, and am eating quite healthy. At my last  physical, due to my family history with prostate cancer, my doctor recommended having an exam to get checked out.  The doctor with the self proclaimed “thinnest fingers in town” gave me a clean bill of health, for now.

Tonight, as I ready myself for bed, I’ll brush my teeth, look in the mirror, and see a 38 year old man who is in the best physical condition of his life.  Then, I’ll tuck into bed the best two kids that a father could ever ask for.  Finally, I’ll crawl into bed, and wrap my arms around my beautiful, and loving wife. As I slip peacefully into unconsciousness, I’ll think of how thankful I am.

Thankful that money problems are all I have.

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30 Responses to “Money Problems Are All I Have”

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  1. Clair Schwan says:

    It’s easy to put things in perspective when you see the trouble that others are having. A supervisor told me a story about how his family was going through personal turmoil of the most bizarre nature – much of it self-initiated. When he finished venting his problems, I looked at him and said, “I appreciate that you’ve confided in me with matters that are so very personal, but I appreciate even more that you’ve shown, with your example, that I really have no problems in my life to speak of.”

    Sometimes, looking at what we complain about can be a good way to determine just how wonderful our lives really are. I keep telling my sweetheart Ellen that we have a great life. Every now and then the idea will crystallize with her and she’ll remark, “We really do have a great life.”

    Here’s to all of us who strive to better our lives through good decision-making, hard work, building effective relationships, and maintaining a can-do attitude, regardless of the challenges that come our way.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for your comment, Clair. I find it unfortunate that it takes seeing loved ones go through these issues to put things into perspective, but I guess it is what it is. On the positive side, going forward I hope to never take for granted how great my life really is – money problems or not.

  2. Bob says:

    You brought a tear to my eye, Travis. The perfect post to read as I sit here having my morning coffee and contemplating all the nonsense that my work day will no doubt bring. It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s truly important in today’s world. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Travis says:

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Bob. We can all use a little reminder every now and then to reflect on and remember all the great things going on in our lives!

  3. Suzanne says:

    Sometimes as we look at our lives and all the ‘troubles” we have we forget how blessed we really are. Thank you for reminding me of that. Now to make sure I call my parents and tell them how much I love them and smother my little boy when he gerts off the bus with kissess (he will hate this).

    • Travis says:

      My newly turned teenager still gets smothered with kisses and hugs…and he still takes them with pride, unless his friends are around. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts. Suzanne!

  4. Travis you are one of my favorite writers. I’ve got tears. You’re the best.

  5. Gina says:

    Just this week a friend is dying of lung cancer, and a friend of a friend died in his sleep …he was 45 and in GOOD health, his first born son was only 8 days old!!
    Yeah, money problems, ain’t lookin too bad right now.

    Enjoy everyday.. hard to do sometimes with the stress in our lives, but a baby will never know his father ..the father that worked out everyday and loved riding his road bike.And a friend faces the end of his life knowing what is coming at him. Yikes! Life can be tuff!

  6. Thomas says:

    Travis – wonderful post. Couldn’t have said it better.
    Time is all we have. Once it’s gone it’s gone. Money is no substitute.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for your comment, Thomas – I’m so happy that you enjoyed the post. Money is definitely not all it’s cracked up to me – that’s something I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years. I’ll take my family and all the great people in my life over “stuff” any day of the week.

  7. Travis, you are a truly blessed man. It’s easy to forget what real problems are until your faced with them. Stay blessed!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Jason, I agree that I am truly blessed. I am thankful each and every day for those blessings! Thank you for your comment, and your kind words!

  8. Great post. When times are rough in our lives, it’s nice to remember that there are other people experiencing far worse: cancer, divorce, unemployment. I’m so thankful for what I have and hope that I can help others, even in a small way.

    • You and me think alike, John…I hope that by sharing my experiences and thoughts that it can somehow prevent someone else from making the same mistakes, or enjoy similar successes in their own life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Dave Hilton says:

    Fantastic post Travis! I look at my family, see all the things I’ve put them through & am thankful for every moment.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Dave, I feel bad for the things that I have put my family through with respect to debt…I hid it from them for years and convinced myself I was protecting them. It’s amazing how much better life is now that everything is out in the open. I cherish every second with my family now, and by keeping myself healthy I plan to enjoy them for years to come!

  10. Brad Chaffee says:

    Travis this was such an amazing post! You put everything right into perspective my friend! It’s really easy to take for granted the lives we have instead of enjoying it to the fullest mistakes and all. We’re all guilty of doing that sometimes, and like you said, it’s unfortunate that it takes seeing our loved ones pain and grief for us to realize it.

    What an inspirational post! 😀

    • Thanks, Brad! You bring up an interesting point – enjoying life, mistakes and all. Mistakes, if learned from don’t have to be a completely negative experience. I’m definitely learning that on my journey to eliminate my debt. Have a great weekend!

  11. Tracy says:

    Today would have been my fathers birthday, I lost him six months ago today from cancer. I have been fighting the same thing with my debt/credit over the past few years and am finally getting things in order. I would give anything to be back in debt every day just to have more time with my father. I have started to make sure and enjoy every day in this world with my loving wife and son and to make the best of what you have. Thanks for the post it really hit home.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Tracy – something that I didn’t include in the post, but was reminded of due to your comment, is that I am also making sure I enjoy my time with my father. Even if the radiation is successful, he is getting older, and I cannot take any more time for granted. Thanks again for your comment!

  12. Jana says:

    Like everyone else, I really enjoyed this post, Travis. I’ve been struggling with a lot of things lately, and when it’s put into perspective like you did, it really makes my problems seem minimal.

    Thanks for this.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Jana. It’s not to say that the problems you or I are going through aren’t stressful and pains in the you-know-what…’s a relativity thing. Plus, at least for me, my major issue (financial) is mostly under my own control. I can chose cut costs and live within my means, or I can chose to continue to shoot myself in the foot. I can’t control getting a life threatening disease, or the actions and feelings of my significant other.

      Thanks again for your comment, Jana – always nice to hear from you!

  13. I could not have said it better myself. I am very fortunate and thankful for my health and family. Even my money problems aren’t all that bad relatively speaking. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hey cashflowmantra, I’m glad you like the post, and glad that you are also faithful for your health and family! My financial issues are also steadily improving, and I’m looking forward to keeping them under control for good. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. This is a lesson that I try to teach my kids often. I have money problems but at least we are healthy. Money problems can be fixed, they are in my control and we will wake up tomorrow healthy and loving each other even if we have less money than others.

    Travis, I always love reading the things you say about Vonnie. In my 7yrs of married life, my husband never once referred to me in a manner that you do in her. The love you share is so evident in your writing (and speaking and actions too!).

    • That’s an excellent point, Jessica – money problems can very much be under our own control. There are some conditions that are not (major medical emergency, natural disaster, etc). But at least for me, financial challenges are (currently) completely under my own control – which means they are completely manageable. If I fail, it’s my own flippin’ fault.

      Thanks so much for the kind words with respect to Vonnie. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and life without her is unimaginable. I’ll pass along your comments to her…maybe it’ll get me some brownie points. 🙂

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