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A Sobering Moment Of Reflection

moment of reflectionI had planned a post today that was going to describe my auto financing experiment.  Well, something happened yesterday that made me move that post to Wednesday.  I need to discuss something that has put what I am doing into perspective.  There was a harsh reality check that really is getting my mind thinking and I will be making some changes.  Hopefully you will stay with me through the entire post.  It is somewhat long.

The Lead In

I play hockey in a league every Sunday night during our seasons.  I really enjoy it and it lets me step away from technology for a bit.  Either way, yesterday my wife decided that she would like to come and watch my game.  They are usually later at night, but this one started at 5.  Since my son doesn’t go to bed until 7, he would be able to come and enjoy the game.  These times make me a happy man.

My game ended at 6 and we were on our way back home.  We won the game by the way :).  As we traveled on the highway, we got into a big traffic jam.  Traffic was backed up, which is not typical for the time of night.  We rounded a corner and noticed a lot of flashing lights.  There were so many emergency vehicles and then I noticed that no cars were coming from the other direction.  I knew there was a bad accident. It was on the other side of the highway, which is 8 lanes, so that means the accident was blocking four lanes of traffic.

We were able to pass by the accident pretty easily, but I noticed that there were two cars just crushed.  Then I noticed the coroner van.  Damn, that means there was a fatality.  That fact enough if sobering, but then my wife jumped on her phone to get more information from out local news channel.

A Sobering Reality Check

As my wife started reading the article, I just got a lump in my throat.  We know that one person was killed in the accident.  One driver asleep at the wheel in the slow east-bound lane, then his car crossed over all four lanes, went through the metal barrier, and smashed into a car heading west.  The driver that got hit was killed.  Truly sad.

The one fact that got me was that this accident happened a matter of minutes after me, my wife, and son were on those same west-bound lanes.  Yes, if we would have left just a few minutes later to travel to the game, that could have been us.  We could have been hit by the car.  This fact really smacked me in the face.

Thinking About the Future

I have been thinking all night about this close call.  While some might not call it that close, it has really rocked me to the core.  I can’t get it out of my head.  Because of this, I have decided to make some changes.

When my son was born, I created a schedule to run this blog and do all of the other things that I needed to.  I made it a priority to not get on the computer or connect when my son was awake.  I just wanted to spend time with him and didn’t want technology to get in the way. It has worked well for the past year. I want to make another change to my schedule.

I have been laser-focused on growing this blog, cutting my expenses, talking about money, and creating wealth.  I was all wake up, take my son to daycare, work, spend a few hours playing with my son, then writing until I passed out.  I was just focused on money and success, but I forgot about one important factor: life!  I have forgotten what is most important in my life and the people in it.  I was focusing on time with my son, but I was forgetting my wife and family.

Some of you may have seen that I don’t post much on Tuesday and Thursday as of late.  I left those days open for guest posts, but due to the amount of spam emails I get, I have stopped guest posting unless it is from bloggers that I know.  I am now planning on keeping this schedule on a regular basis.  I am only going to post on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  If something strikes me or I need to put up something interesting, then I will.  I am also bringing on two staff writers that will start in February.

I am taking this new schedule and spending it with my wife and son.  She typically goes to sleep early and I am late night person.  I am going to spend my nights with her until she goes to sleep.  That is when I am going to pick up my computer and do work. I have been doing this some nights, but not all.  Yes, I might not be able to get as much work done, but that is not the point.  There is more to my life than this blog and making money.  I need to refocus my priorities and I am starting now.  Debt Roundup isn’t going anywhere, but I am just putting myself into a routine and working when my family is asleep.  This is what I am going to do.

It is sad that a tragic event had to come around for me to get my priorities straight, but it is what it is.  I am truly sad that this happened and the loss of a life.  It is truly sobering and really should make you think about what your priorities are. I know I have and am making a change.

Do you have your priorities straight?  Does it take something jarring to get you to rethink what you have been doing?

Photo via Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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61 comments
Matt Becker says January 27

Wow, glad everyone is okay. The work/life balance is definitely something that’s been on my mind for a while now and it’s still something I struggle with. Honestly, I think in terms of actual time spent I’m not far from where I’d like to be, but my biggest weakness is letting my mind wander when I’m with my family. You’re right on when you talk about how precious those moments are and it’s such a waste to be there in person but not really have my head into it. Even if nothing tragic ever happens, there is still a limited amount of time that really shouldn’t be wasted. Thanks for the reminder.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    We are fine since we weren’t in the wreck, but the thought of just a few minutes just spooked me. I also have my mind wander when I am with my family, but that is something that I just have to work on.

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Brian @ Luke1428 says January 27

Great reminder Grayson! This is something I’ve been focused on a lot lately. I have a very short window of time to impact my children before they leave the house. Even though I enjoy blogging, I won’t sacrifice time with them to do it. Life’s too short and they are so much fun.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    You make a great point Brian. There is only a short window of time to make an impact.

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John S @ Frugal Rules says January 27

Wow, great reminder Grayson. My wife and I were talking about this matter a lot while we were on vacation – about how easy it is to get out of balance. I’ve definitely been guilty of allowing us to get out of balance and the sad thing is you’ll never get that time back. I’ve found that if I don’t seek out to protect that time with the family it simply doesn’t happen, thus the importance to set boundaries as you said.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Yeah, there are just so many things to accomplish and not enough hours in the day to do it.

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DC @ Young Adult Money says January 27

This Winter my friend’s sister died unexpectedly in a car accident. I think that event made me really re-think my priorities, as I think I was in the same boat as you where time with my wife has suffered due to my side hustles. Having two weekly contributors has really helped, but there’s always “something else” you can do to be productive and grow a website or other small business.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I am sorry to hear that DC. I am hoping that my staff writers will give me a little more time, but I am sure there will be more things to do.

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Cashville Skyline says January 27

It’s unfortunate that it sometimes takes a tragedy to take a step back and re-evaluate our priorities. Our lives are so much shorter than we realize. Days, weeks, and months turn into years. Are we really spending our time as we should? Thanks for the reminder.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I agree. It becomes just one of those slaps of reality that you sometimes need.

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Laurie says January 27

Oh, Grayson, SO glad you guys are okay. What a sad, sad story. Yes, that was definitely a close call, and you never know when some sort of terrible mistake like driving too tired will ruin yours or someone else’s life. I do my work while the kids are asleep and Rick’s at work. I can focus more, and there’s not that looming guilt about not being with my family.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Thanks Laurie. I have always tried to work when I am alone, but that might not always be the case when deadlines are looming.

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Shannon @ Financially Blonde says January 27

As you know Grayson, I got a harsh reality check last week with the death of my young friend. These events are tragic, but only tragic if we never learn from them. Family is truly the meaning of life and time spent with those we love is never time wasted. Good for you!

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I am sorry about that Shannon and I hope you are doing well. Family is what is important, not money.

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Travis @debtchronicles says January 27

I was in an accident about 10 years ago – I was turning left through an intersection, when a teenager ran a red light because his brakes failed (he was actually going to get them fixed). he slammed into me going about 50mph in the right front quarter panel. A split second difference in time and he would have slammed into the driver’s side door….and who knows if I’d be typing this. I think of that often…how quickly life can change. I didn’t have my priorities straight for a long time….but I do now. I have some more straightening out to do, but I’m getting closer. 🙂

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Wow, sorry to hear that Travis. It only takes a little bit of a difference to really change the outcome. Good luck on your quest to straighten.

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Raquel@Practical Cents says January 27

I think it does take something jarring for many people to rethink what we’re doing. I know in my case this has happened a few times. I tend to think of it as, what is this experience here to teach me? What do I need to learn from this? Sometimes you learn the lesson right away, as you did.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Those are great questions to ask. That is what I need to focus on and make sure I take something away.

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Anthony @ Thrifty Dad says January 27

I’m totally with you buddy. When we had our first child, I did the same thing – I committed that I would never work while she was awake. With the second one, she’s up late, so it’s getting much harder to do that, but one of my big goals this year, was to work less and so far it’s been working out. No more every night till 2am. I give myself an hour a night for my freelance work and set a timer, when that goes off, I’m done. It’s just not worth it. It’s not cool when you start bringing work into your family life, and it begins to take over. Life’s too short!

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I don’t know what I will do if/when we have a second child. That will be much harder to deal with, but I guess I will just work later into the night.

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Tonya@Budget and the Beach says January 27

I think moments like that are there to open our eyes just a little bit to what’s important. That’s very sad for the drive of that car. 🙁 I’m pretty good about my priorities. I don’t have family obligations like you do, but I make sure I take time every day to focus on my health. It’s funny about time because it’s not the writing and posting that eats up my time, it’s reading and commenting!! OMG it takes HOURS!!! I can’t seem to find a better system to cut down on my time there unless I want to lose readers.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I certainly agree Tonya. This sobering situation did open my eyes into what I was doing and what I was doing wrong. Commenting does take hours. I try to do it regularly, but it has gotten very difficult.

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Catherine says January 27

This isn’t something I’ve blogging about yet and haven’t decided if I will but my friend and coworker was diagnosed this month at the age of 42 with stage 4 cancer, an incredibly rare cancer too. though they’re optimistic with her age and health she’ll put up a bug fight it still scares the shit out of me. anything can happen to anyone. count your blessings that your family is safe, I also need to remember to put the blog last sometimes.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I am sorry to hear that Catherine. I wish her the best of luck with the fight. Since the blog is not my main source of income, I need to focus on other things sometimes.

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Girl Meets Debt says January 27

Awww this is truly a sad story Grayson. 🙁 My situation is different since both J and I blog and we both spend too much time on our projects. I have asked J to cut back on the time that he spends blogging and even though he still works like a machine, he outsources a lot of things and we manage to fit in at least one date night a week and weekend unplugged. I KNOW your wife will appreciate that extra effort you are putting in to spend with her. 🙂

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I don’t know what I would do if my wife was a blogger, but I know that will never happen. She hates technology, which is funny because I love it.

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Revanche says January 27

The timing of this post is rather … striking. I’ve been striving for that work life balance (particularly since the blog is more of a hobby) for several years. It was a necessity up until the last couple of years to workworkwork but with each of us losing a parent, grandparents, cousins, uncles, parents of dear friends… the list has been staggering.
And we just got the call that a very young friend of ours died suddenly yesterday. We would have seen him yesterday morning if 1 thing had been different about our day. It wasn’t, so we didn’t, and now he’s gone. It’s shocking and sobering, and scary to remember that it can all go away in a blink of an eye.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    What a story. I am very sorry to hear that and I hope you are doing OK with the loss. Everything can go away just like that and it is reality.

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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says January 27

A great reminder, Grayson. I am guilty of stretching myself out too thin too. I’m glad you’re making life and your family a priority. Your wife and son … and YOU … will truly benefit from more quality time together. Lauren hit double digits on her last birthday and I can still remember the first time I held her and it seems like it was yesterday. They grow so fast and you don’t want to miss out. The Heavy Purse is important to me because I believe so strongly in teaching kids about money but I also don’t want my kids to suffer because I’m too busy for them either. It’s not always easy finding that balance (and it’s always seems to move too) but I’m glad you’re figuring out what works best for you.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I have stretched myself too thin for years. I need to figure out a better method to work smarter and not harder.

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E.M. says January 27

I get chills whenever I pass by a bad accident on the highway. The thought goes through my mind that it could always be me, or someone else I know, that ends up in that situation some day. It is extremely sobering when it sets in. As much as I want my blog to be successful, I don’t want it to take away time with my loved ones. I think your plan sounds great, and I hope it works out well so that you get more quality time with your family.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I get that way as well. I never want to see those accidents. This one just got to me more because it was just minutes from when I passed on that same side.

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Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com says January 27

Love your new perspective Grayson. Sometimes it takes an event like this to make us realize where our time needs to be spent, hope it works out and brings you some great time with the fam.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Thanks Kyle. I hope it works out, but I am sure it will take some bit to get used to.

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Emily @ evolvingPF says January 27

What a tragedy. I can’t wait for driverless cars. Humans are dangerous behind the wheel, even when they’re not impaired.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    It will take a long time before those will be helping us out. There is just too much to change before we all will be using them.

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Liz says January 27

Very scary and a very true wakeup call. It’s great that you took the initiative to make a plan and re-arrange your schedule. I am sure these little changes in your schedule will make a positive impact on your life.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Thanks Liz. I feel that I needed to make a change since it was a harsh reality check.

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Sher C says January 27

So glad you and the family are okay and very sobering indeed. The thing about these sort of tragedies is that those impacted do learn from them, and the change of perspective is just that.

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Bryce @ Save and Conquer says January 27

Every now and then when we see something tragic or sad, we come to the realization, “That could have been me.” I’m glad that you were able to have a take-away from this tragic accident to change some of your behavior for the better. It sometimes takes a close call to get us to remember what is really important.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    It irritates me that it takes such an event. I wish I could focus more on things that are most important without needed such an event.

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Holly@ClubThrifty says January 28

When I started working at a mortuary with Greg, I couldn’t believe how many people died in accidents like that. It happens all the time, but you don’t really hear about it unless its someone you know. It really is a scary world out there =(

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    I don’t even want to know Holly. I am sure you saw some crazy things there.

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jefferson @SeeDebtRun says January 28

Yep.. I’ve been in that same situation before. You can’t help but go over those moments in your mind. Did you stop to get a drink of water on the way out? Did someone need to use the bathroom? Did a stranger initiate a conversation that seemed to “stall” you for a couple of minutes? Honestly, it is a situation a lot like that that caused me to start going to church again a few years ago. It just felt like someone was looking out for me.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Exactly Jefferson. I went through many thoughts in my head that caused us to be a few minutes quicker on that stretch of road. Just one stop light change could have caused me to be there.

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Kendal @HassleFreeSaver says January 28

Yikes. I hate seeing accidents like that one — it’s a harsh reminder about the utter lack of control we have over our lives. I think it’s great what you’re doing and wish you the best in your new schedule!

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    You are correct Kendal. We have such little control, yet we think we have total control.

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Broke Millennial says January 28

This scarily seems to be a trend floating around the PF community right now. I am so glad you and your family are safe. I think your rescheduled agenda still sounds incredibly efficient and I’m sure Debt Roundup will continue to thrive.

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    Grayson Bell says January 28

    Thank you Erin. I don’t think Debt Roundup will suffer, but it will allow me to focus more of my time and energy on things that I deem important.

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Jon @ Our Fine Adventure says January 29

Very scary, but that you are ok! I know we had a similar scary moment last 4th of July… we were planning to travel somewhere for fireworks, but wound up staying home because my wife was sick. We later found out that on one of the two roads out of town, there was a drunk driver that hit another vehicle and killed more than one person. It is always scary and sobering!

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    Grayson Bell says January 29

    That is a scary situation. Drunk drivers scare me because you have no idea what they are going to do.

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Kim@Eyesonthedollar says January 29

I had a similar experience last October on the way home from Fincon. I think it’s important to work and have money, but that is certainly not what life is about and you never know when you’re time is up.

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La Tejana @ Debt Free Tejana says January 30

A very sobering thought indeed Grayson.

I definitely think that I take my blessings for granted at times: a healthy life, a steady income, two awesome jobs, the best friends, and the most incredible family. Yesterday I got an email from another teacher letting us know about one of the students at my school (who I taught last year) who had a family member who died and left behind 5 young children and wife. I teach at a Title 1 school (more than half the kiddos receive free lunch and breakfast), so their family does not have tons of extra money lying around to support them. They are rallying all their efforts and cousins, aunts, uncles are all helping out, but holy cow. I have a very (mostly) healthy family and I know that if something happened to one of my family members we would be able to make it financially. It just breaks my heart that not all my kiddos can say the same thing. It was definitely a wake up call to how blessed I really am.

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    Grayson Bell says January 30

    That sounds like a very sobering situation you described. This just shows that we really do take too much for granted. Thanks for the reminder La Tejana.

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Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says February 1

It’s awful to think that accidents can happen at any time to anyone. I’m so glad you and your sweet little family were safe. Being married to a medical school student has required a lot of patience and a lot of selfnessness on my part, but it’s really his busy schedule that allowed me to work on my blog guilt free. Now with the kids coming, I’m not sure what direction I will take but I do worry a lot about income. At the end of the day, it’s just a blog and our families are most important. Kudos to you for continuing to look for the balance. I’m excited about the direction your blog is taking and know that the staff writers will definitely take some of the stress off of you. You’re a good guy Grayson! Keep fighting the good fight!

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    Grayson Bell says February 3

    I really appreciate your comment Cat! I know you will figure out a schedule once your twins are here. I wish you the best of luck and make sure to contact me if you ever have any questions. I am always willing to help!

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KK @ Student Debt Survivor says February 2

We have a lot of deaths at my work (supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals) and it’s really hard. We actually had another one last week and every time it happens it really reminds me to be thankful for everyday. In the long run my blog and making and saving money aren’t nearly as important to me as spending time with family and friends and building relationships.

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    Grayson Bell says February 3

    That would be hard KK. I am sure those events give you moments of reflection way more, but it also gives you one of the best perspectives on how blessed you are.

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Michelle says February 27

Grayson, I am so glad that you and your family are ok. Part of why I quit my job was watching how other people were “living…or not living” their lives and I felt like I was in no place to judge. I was like a robot, working day in and day out and I felt like there had to be another way to live my life. To enjoy my family and friends, to look at the sunrise and sunset, and savor each moment. This is why lifestyle design is so intriguing and exciting to me and so many other people. Each day is precious.

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