If You Had to Choose

We all have different money situations.

Some have more. Some have less.

But there’s one thing we all have in common: a finite amount.

When it comes to money, there are so many options. Whether it’s saving for retirement, spending it all on a vacation or buying the new car tires you’ve been avoiding, there’s an endless array of ways to spend your hard earned cash.

But you have to choose. Each and every day we make choices about where our money goes and how it is spent.

Choices are made, one dollar at a time.

We’ve been told that we can have it all. The career, the family, the car, the house, the vacations. The list is endless. It’s the American Dream, packaged and sold in thousands of different forms.

But the Dream is a lie. You can’t have it all.

If you’re part of the 99%, you have to choose.

Will you buy a plane ticket to visit your family or a new car? Will you take the promotion that comes with 30% more pay (and 30% more hours) or will you stay where you are and spend the extra time with your family?

Sometimes we feel like we have no choice. And that’s intentional. The barrage of information, commercials and pitches are intentionally designed to make us feel confused and stuck.

Of course I can’t decline the promotion. We need the money.

My car is a necessity. I’ll visit my parents next year.

The choices start to feel less like choices and more like facts. “I can’t afford it,” becomes less of an excuse and more of a belief.

So life happens. Without love and attention, partners become strangers. Without exercise, bodies grow weak. Without noticing, parents become elderly.

In order to choose, we have to take a break.

We have to step off the treadmill of life and stop sprinting.

It feels difficult, but there are some easy ways to get started:

  • Take in the view from your apartment balcony. Step outside into your backyard. Ground yourself in the moment and take a deep breath.
  • Dust off your journal and ask yourself some hard questions: What do I truly value?
  • Pretend that you’ve already lived once and this your redemption round. You did it wrong the first time. What will you do differently now?
  • Go on a long walk near your favorite body of water and leave your headphones at home.

Once you’ve done one (or all) of the above, it’s time to make your list.

Here’s mine:

  1. Family

  2. Health + Safety

  3. Friends

  4. Meaningful work

  5. Adventure



This list is the roadmap to your finances. It’s your guiding light when things feel hard and money feels tight.

Hold tight to your list and make sure your spending aligns with what you’ve chosen.

Because the truth is that you can afford it.

But you have to choose.

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What will you choose?

8 thoughts on “If You Had to Choose

  1. FullTimeFinance says:

    I so agree. The key of course is taking time away. You can’t make these type of self realizations in the thick of it. Studies have even shown the more hurried you are the worse decisions you make. Combine that with things like short term marketing and this is really a room meditating at home type of self actualizarion. However once you do have that life gets easier, as usually decisions are clear.


    1. Taylor says:

      Yeah, I totally agree. I’ve tried to limit my exposure to commercials and online ads as much as possible, but it’s honestly impossible to escape unless you really unplug from the Internet. It’s a hard balance to strike especially with the addictive nature of being connected and constantly stimulated, but like you said, so worth it to walk away for a bit.


  2. Jim says:

    Prioritizing is always important, especially when you’re talking finite resources like time and money. I found that by writing down my priorities, there was a permanence to it. Like I was declaring to the world what was important to me – so it gained even more power. I “knew” family was #1 for me, but writing it down was a big leap, funny enough.

    One of the things that falls out of this is that when you commit yourself to something big financially, like a car or a house, you may unintentionally flip the priorities you wrote down. You have to take the promotion of you’re carrying a big debt burden (car/house/student loans/cc debt) because you can’t afford to not accept!

    Great post, definitely something to ponder, thanks for writing it!


    1. Taylor says:

      Wow, that’s so true. I’ve never consciously thought about it like that, but that would definitely explain my aversion to debt and big financial commitments. I also LOVE the power that comes with writing things down. I’ve been journaling every morning for nearly 5 years now and the ritual of putting pen to paper provides so many insights and truths. It’s a really powerful tool.


  3. Divnomics says:

    Couldn’t agree more, money (and time) is a hard asset to get by sometimes. But oh so necessary to have in life. When you make choices that stands in line with your values, some may be tough. But in the end they will lead you to a better (and happier) life.

    I’m more a time choice struggler than with money though, and want to do all things at once. That’s what eventually leads to being a perfectionist. Now I try to spend my time with the following mantra: done is better than perfect.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Taylor says:

      Oh man, I feel you. Perfectionism is actually something I’m working on right now. It can get to a point that it’s debilitating and then even though I want to do everything (and be great at it, duh) nothing gets done! It’s a lose-lose situation. I agree about the hard choices and will be stealing your mantra 🙂


  4. Jeric Danao says:

    “Sometimes we feel like we have no choice. And that’s intentional.” I couldn’t agree more.

    I had a choice whether I should let my elderly love ones stay at our home or in some elderly service home care. What would you choose, right? Sometimes, the majority of thinking that you’ll be going for the better, but it doesn’t end up like the way you imagined. There are going to be regrets. But never resent.


    1. Taylor says:

      I love your last sentence: “There are going to be regrets. But never resent.” So insightful and so true. We’re all just trying our best. I’m sorry you had to face such a tough choice.


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