When dealing with financial problems, you're never alone

When navigating financial troubles, never lose sight of those who are always with you

Julia Cumes/AP/File
In this file photo, the sun rises over Nantucket Sound as seen from Popponesset Beach in Mashpee, Mass., on Cape Cod. U.S.

When I first reached my financial bottom, I felt desperately alone. I wrote about the pain of that financial bottom a while ago:

In short, even though my mind kept searching for a way out, another saving grace, part of me began to realize that there was no way out this time. I began to feel completely sick to my stomach and disgusted with myself, so I walked back home. My wife was there on the couch, flipping through a magazine, and my son was in his room taking a nap.

I went into my son’s room, closed the door behind me, and sat down in the rocking chair across from his crib. He was so tiny laying there, less than six months old, and he was sleeping so peacefully there without a worry in the world.

At first, I envied him. I wanted so badly to be in a situation without responsibility, to have my life in a place where I could just lie there in innocent sleep, without a worry troubling me.

But as I watched him lay there, gently breathing, another set of emotions began to take over. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. Pain. I was failing this wonderful little boy, this child who had already brought incalculable joy into my life. He looked to me and relied on me for everything, and because of my poor decision making and my selfishness, I was throwing it all away.

I closed my eyes and imagined the future I wanted for him, and then watched it dissolve into the future that he would have if I didn’t change things immediately. And I cried, almost uncontrollably.

I had my son that I loved so much. I had my wife, too. In the end, though, I felt alone. I felt like I had let everyone down because of my own inability to handle my money. I alone knew how bad the financial situation really was, and I alone knew that it was largely my own fault.

The thing was, I wasn’t alone. I’ve never really been alone.

For one, there’s God. I’m not going to enter into a debate about what that means, whether it’s really a spiritual force or just my subconscious talking, but I know that when I spend time meditating and praying, I find answers to the questions I seek, or at least directions to those answers. There’s something there, something I have always been able to rely on, and whether it’s a deity or my subconscious or something else, it’s a real thing that has consistently been able to guide me.

My wife, Sarah, has been by my side as either my steady girlfriend, my fiancee, or my wife for the last sixteen years. I can talk to her about anything going on in my life and get a sensible, steady, reliable answer.

I have three children that bury me in hugs every time they see me. Their good cheer is a constant mood lifter and their requests for help make me realize that I am of value to the people around me.

My parents have been around since the day I was born. Both of them have offered me help in almost every way I could ask for throughout my life.

My extended family is constantly supportive and willing to offer advice and assistance to me whenever I ask.

I have a circle of friends who provide constant good humor, companionship, and help, no matter what I’m going through in life.

I participate in several online communities, full of people who are always willing to share advice and encouragement.

I am not alone on this journey – or any other journey that I have in my life.

You are not alone, either. Your sources of strength may be very different than mine, but you are never alone unless you willfully choose to be. There are always people who are concerned about you and want to help you. There are always people who will step up to the plate alongside you and walk with you on any journey that you may take.

Often, all you have to do is ask, and that’s often the hardest part.

The one thing to keep in mind is this: almost everyone respects and wants to help someone who is trying to make a positive change in their life, particularly when they already care about that person. If someone in your life doesn’t do that, then that means they only valued you for the negative trait you’re leaving behind, and that’s not a good foundation for a relationship.

You are not alone.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

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