My father told me once that money is like water in your fist. Once you loosen one finger, it all flows out. To me, this means that you must watch where you spend. It's easier to move up to a higher expenditure lifestyle than to move down to a more restricted financial lifestyle.
After grad school, I chose a career advising individuals on how to manage and invest their personal wealth. While I was the advisor, I learned a lot from the way wealthy clients lived their private lives. It's a side of people's lives that is seldom publicly discussed. I was surprised to observe in very real ways that having lots of money didn't always make people happy. Sure, it made their lives easier in some ways, but the happiest of my clients were those who were able to live within their means, who had financial security because they spent wisely and watched their finances carefully.
This lesson stuck with me and makes me prioritise a lifestyle that gives me freedom both financially and in terms of time.
With our first child, my husband and I were both able to take career breaks for two years to share the time as new parents. It's been a fantastic experience in so many ways and it is one of the wonderful things that financial freedom has been able to give us. Becoming parents also showed us that some of the things we were spending on before didn't bring us as much joy as our ability to spend time with our children and family around the world.
Now with two children, I see how easy it is to give them everything they want. But I remind myself that kids don't need so much and it's more important to start teaching them the lessons about financial freedom now by being happy about what we have. When they get older, my husband and I plan on giving them pocket money with the option of compound interest savings from the 'bank of mum and dad' to teach them the benefits of savings and later investing. The more children can start interacting with financial concepts, the more innate it will become for them later in life.
A lot of of my girlfriends seem reluctant to discuss money, but I think it's a fundamental part of life. Sharing our personal lessons and experiences with money helps us feel less alone, enabling us to perhaps make better choices. We discuss so much about many aspects of our lives, why not help each other in this core aspect of our lives?