The Gift of Good Finances

I screwed up big-time this morning.

With a look of appreciation from my wife, I was off this Christmas Eve morning with my 3 kids on an adventure.

She had been carrying the burden of my absence the past few weeks while I’ve been traveling and drowning under my work projects (which has also severely affected my ability to post!).

So, I wanted to give her a nice morning to herself and took the children to one of their favorite places: my office.

They eagerly wrote stories on my computer and printed them out in color (both of which I’ve included from this morning’s outing).  They became thirsty every 10 minutes, excusing themselves to go to the water cooler to press the “cold” button that summoned icy water, or “hot” that made a steamy pool in their cup. They squealed with delight as they ran up and down the hallways.

(Zuzzy’s Christmas origin story.)

After 2 hours of fun, we were off to lunch when I saw a white envelope on my windshield.

This must be a joke.

I looked at the license plate number on the ticket and matched it just to make sure no one was playing a trick on me. How could this be? And on Christmas Eve? My paid parking stub was clearly on the dash.  Parking was plentiful, so I wasn’t taking anyone’s spot. Bah humbug! I inspected the ticket again:

HP Violation: $301.

In my haste to get my children out of the car, quickly out of the rain, and into the lobby, I neglected to double check the signs and ended up parking in the handicapped space.

Merry Christmas to me.

Upset, embarrassed, and disappointed, I gathered my children around as I told my wife the bad news.  I try to set an example to my children of how to face disappointment and fear, but that doesn’t make the experience sting any less.  We work so hard to save money and a stupid mistake like that undoes a lot of our efforts.  We only make it worse when we ignore or hide it.

(Zack’s chapter book.)

In the end, I’m thankful.  If our finances weren’t in order, a mistake like this could be a near fatal blow. It could cause us to be short on a credit card payment and compound the error. But if you’ve built strong financial habits (though maybe not parking habits), it’s just a sudden kick to the groin.  It hurts, but you can recover from it.  Great finances are the athletic cup of life — it can help you absorb a lot of blows.   

If you haven’t yet given yourself the gift of strong finances, please take this new year to start getting it right.  You never know when you’ll get kicked.

With that image in mind…Merry Christmas!

(Want to get started on building a strong financial foundation?  Start here.)

We will be back Monday with thoughts on how much money Christians should give.


  • Joleisa December 25, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Awww. I was caught similarly once. My friend had called to say she was in a desperate financial spot and could I wire her some money through Western Union. I quickly pulled up my car in the only available spot (it was reserved for disabled drivers) and tried to quickly run in, do the business and leave! Well less than ten minutes later I rushed out to my fresh new £60 parking fine. Thankfully, here, if you pay within 30 days, you only pay half.
    Lesson learnt

    • JT December 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Hey Joleisa! Costly mistakes when trying to do good — so sad! Glad it was only 30 pounds!

  • Lauren Fortenberry January 3, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    This is a beautiful message – one that encourages and comforts those of us who have also made “costly” errors! I find myself worrying from time to time about the unforeseen (yet inevitable) future big expenses in our family’s future. But peace comes when I remember all the money we save, invest, etc. to prepare for those necessary purchases/bills. Just as your children at your office, I need to remember that mistakes will happen and fun is just around the corner…perhaps next to the water cooler? Thanks for sharing.

    • JT January 4, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Thanks Lauren! I’m thinking of writing something on black swan events. Sudden, worldview changing events (not that getting a ticket is one of them) are rare, but when you consider all of these different type of events (big earthquake, floods, terrorist attacks, sudden illness, etc), they actually happen with regularity. Good finances may not solve these problems but help so that it doesn’t become worse.


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