As Cheesy As It Sounds: It’s People First, Then Money

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, most financial decisions are not made in a vacuum. It would certainly be nice to believe that we put our ‘thinking caps’ on before making every financial decision. That we save more often that we spend and that every decision results in the accumulation of greater wealth. But, truth be told, more often than not financial decisions are about more than just money.

Many times we weigh the monetary cost of financial decisions against the human factor. I think Suze Orman sums it up best when she says, “its people first, then money, then things.” In one of my all time favorite moments on the Suze Orman Show, Suze told a caller to take a trip to San Francisco that the caller couldn’t really afford. That is the only time I can ever recall Suze offering such advice. In fact, since that time Suze has told people not to adopt children, join the Peace Corps, and a whole plethora of nobler desires. But Suze’s reasoning was simple: the caller’s boyfriend was heading to Iraq and with an unknown life or death outcome, Suze okayed the caller’s desire to seize the day. Of course, in true Suze fashion she left a caveat, that the caller spend as little on the trip as possible.

Recently, I spent $262.45 on a digital picture frame for my grandmother. My grandfather, who passed away ten years ago, was an amazing amateur photographer. When he passed he left behind thousands of photographic slides. Due to the cost of processing film, he rarely developed the pictures he took. Instead, he would hold slide shows for the family, projecting hundreds of images onto the walls of his home. Of course, as children we weren’t interested in sitting for hours watching slide shows. Upon my grandfather’s death his slides were gathered together and moved into an old armoire chest. They sat and collected dust for years, until I decided to create digital scans of them. I painstakingly began to scan and catalog the images. With so many to scan I have only made a dent in the piles. I’ve scanned about 1,200 so far. Many of the images brought me to tears. Moments captured of my mom and dad at their first Christmas, images of my brother coming home from the hospital, and pictures of my mother and I that exude the love we hold for one another.

Realizing that my grandmother doesn’t have access or knowledge of a computer, I decided to buy her a digital picture frame to view the pictures. After a bit of research I decided upon the most expensive frame. Since my grandmother is 84, with poor vision, size and clarity are of the utmost importance. Ultimately, I picked the most expensive frame because it excelled in these areas. If money were the only factor, I may have chosen not to buy a frame or to purchase the most inexpensive one. But when I look at the pictures my grandfather took, I can only imagine the range of emotions he felt behind that lens. Within each picture I try to imagine the pride, joy, compassion, elation, and frustration he felt. To display the images on anything less than the best just wouldn’t feel right.

Dumb Little Man is holding a new contest asking bloggers for their best Personal Finance Tip. My best personal finance tip is as follows: When you are considering purchasing an expensive item, rather than buying it for yourself, consider buying it for someone else. The joy money can bring can be well worth the cost.

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