What is it That You Prize Most?

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Teach kids about money

Happy Monday friends! I know that the title isn’t the catchiest around, but it comes from my heart. You see, yesterday was the fifth birthday of our dear son Isaac.

For those of you who are newer to Frugal Rules, I encourage you to read my post from last year in which I share about how we lost him after just four brief minutes of life from complications due to Trisomy 18. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of our sweet little one and this time of year he’s heavier on my heart.

As I look at our oldest who recently turned six and the next oldest who turned four just a few weeks ago I know how special turning five is. They’re generally becoming more of their own person in flashes. They’re starting to question things around them, read, and begin to show more in depth parts of what kind of personality they are going to have. Of course, it also means they’re being a bit more rebellious, but that is the fun of parenting.  🙂

All these things make me wonder what kind of person Isaac would’ve been if he would’ve survived. They also bring other questions to my heart, such as:

  • Would he be the happy go lucky type like Mrs. Frugal Rules or would he be the ever-questioning troublemaker that I am?
  • What would his voice sound like?
  • What would be his favorite activities?
  • How would he interact with his sister and brothers?
  • What kind of man would he grow up to be and what kind of impact would he have on this world?

Just typing this I have tears rolling down my face as I ache to know the answers to those questions. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to know and would give anything to experience them first hand. Through my heartache I have confidence that I will get to see him again someday and saying that I look forward to that day is not doing it justice.

What Do You Prize or Cherish?

You may be asking why I share such intimate detail. I share them because day in and day out I talk about money. I love it, I know my fair share about it, and I do all I can to earn more of it. I remember back to how I felt after we lost Isaac and how it rocked our worlds to the nth degree and it caused me to see just how much I have been blessed with. Yet, how am I different five years after the fact?

Yes, I get to work from home and thus get more time with our kids and love that I have that privilege, but how much of that is quality time? I don’t have to look at the oldest ones long to see that they like to play with toy laptops given to them by various relatives to know that they’re basically doing what they see modeled to them. The point being that having a balance between making more money and quality time with our kids is vitally important. Our lives are but a whisper and little will our kids remember how much money I made for them and our family, but it’s the memories they’ll cherish.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, what I prize most is my family and time with them. I look back at how quickly the past five years have passed and know that it’ll only pass quicker as they get older and get involved in more activities. I shudder to think of the day we drop them off to college and think that I don’t really know them as I should because I spent so much of their lives tethered to something electronic. Thus, if that is where my values lie then my actions should align a little more with them.

This is not to say that making money is evil or bad, by any means, but to say that balance and living out what you say is important to you is immensely important. Basically, if I can provide everything they could ever dream of then it’s all for naught if I’ve not given them the most precious commodity there is – time.

So, my friends, I ask you to look at what you prize and how your priorities are lining up with it. In this crazy world it is incredibly easy to allow them to get thrown off track and before you know it time has passed you by. Speaking personally, there are many, many ways to make more money at various levels, but there is nothing you can do to get more time. It is a limited commodity that you can do little to in order to earn any back.

And, as my parting words of wisdom today, I encourage you to find someone near to you and tell them you love them as there is no time like the present.

And for those not in to emotional and heart wrenching posts, come back tomorrow as we’ll be talking about more money savvy things then.  🙂


Photo courtesy of: Nicole S

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)


  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Many, many hugs to all of you, John. All of those traits you wonder about, he still has them, just not in this world, and one day, you’ll get to know and enjoy them all, forever and ever. May God continue to comfort and bless you guys always.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Wonderful post, John, and a great reminder of having priorities straight. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about balancing work and the things that we are working for – in your case, quality time with your children. In my case I would say it’s time with my wife. I work very hard (we both do) and sometimes spending that time together is what gets sacrificed, even though it should be the top priority in our lives.

    • John says:

      Thanks DC! I agree, it can be so easy to allow things creep in on you and overtake what you have as a priority. I am incredibly guilty of that personally, so my words and actions need to match up.

    • Kostas says:

      When work becomes the focus of our lives, we forget to live and forget what is most important. As I’ve lost many, I know how precious time with loved ones, be it friends or family, is important. DC, make more time for that wife of yours, you never know what tomorrow holds. John, I hope you have many wonderful years with your children.

      • John says:

        “When work becomes the focus of our lives, we forget to live and forget what is most important.” I could not agree more Kostas. It can be so easy to allow work or something else take priority in your lives if you’re not careful. That’s why noticing it now, as opposed to years down the road, is so important.

  • Pauline says:

    My thoughts go to you and your family today. I don’t value time enough because it abounds around here but this is a great reminder that I should spend it wisely, this is the only thing you can’t get more of.

    • John says:

      Thanks Pauline! Yes, unfortunately, time is not an endless commodity. I think we’d still find some way to mess it up if it were.

  • Simon @ Modest Money says:

    Thanks for the heartfelt reminder John. I think we are confronted with so many things nowadays that its easy to lose focus on what is important – love and relationships with our loved ones, and taking the time to appreciate them each day. In the grand scheme of things, we can always earn more money but we cannot buy more time to spend with loved ones. We can only do it now, each day.
    I echo Laurie’s comment; May the Lord always give you strength and bless you and your family.

    • John says:

      Thanks Simon! I could not agree more, you can almost always find ways to make more money, but time – it’s incredibly limited.

  • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

    This was extremely touching. This is such a beautiful reminder that our friends and family are the most valuable things in each of our lives. Thank you so much for sharing such a heartfelt, emotional story – my thoughts will be with you and your family today.

  • Joel @ SaveOutsideTheBox says:

    Great thoughts John. Sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what that is like my friend. But thanks for the wonderful reminder.

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    What a way to bring out the emotions on a Monday John. My thoughts are with you as always!

    I know that before the birth of my son, I wasn’t sure what I cherished. I can say my wife, but the way that I acted and pushed harder for making more money, I guess I would have had to say money. It is sad, but that has changed. I love and cherish my wife and my son. My family is more important to me than anything around me. I would stop blogging in an instant if my wife asked me to. There are so many things that we overlook these days and taking time to reflect is important.

    • John says:

      Thanks Grayson! I can certainly relate to that as I likely was the same way before we had our kids, Well, I know I was. I can be so guilty of still allowing that to drive me today and allow that balance to get completely thrown out of whack.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I think this is one of the reasons I feel I’m nowhere near ready to have children. I’m still at a point in my life where I have to work constantly just to get by. I want to make sure that when the time comes, I have enough financial support that I can take some of that time to be with them.

    • John says:

      I can certainly understand that sentiment Stefanie. It was the same way for my wife and I before we had our kids. For us, we wanted to get our debt paid off before we started a family. Looking back, I wish we wouldn’t have waited, but we so desperately wanted to be out of debt.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I treasure the time with my kids as well. They go to daycare while I work so I don’t see them all day so I make sure to give them all of my attention when they’re home!

    • John says:

      I’d imagine having that set up would allow you to have more balance with your time. I think that is part of my problem in that I am always around them but miss out on the quality time.

  • getrichwithme says:

    My wife, my kids, my health – I don’t think anything else comes close to mattering as much as these 3.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    Love your perspective John and the touching reminder to keep what’s important in focus. Money answers many a problem in our lives but doesn’t deserve to be that thing we value most.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    Money can buy lots of things but certainly not time. I think it’s important for kids to see you work and how you are a productive member of society, but it is hard to find that balance. Thanks for sharing this story today. My heart goes out to you and Nicole, and I will remind myself not to take what I have for granted.

  • Budget and the Beach says:

    I’m sure this is a really tough time for you! You’re so right though. I know someone personally who doesn’t seem to spend enough time with their kids. It’s heartbreaking to watch because they will never get those years back. Is being a workaholic really worth it? I guess that’s the question each person needs to ask themselves. I don’t even have kids, but I want to enjoy my life to the fullest…using common sense of course. πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      It really isn’t worth it to be a workaholic, kids or no kids…in my opinion at least. πŸ™‚ Once you look at it as losing time, it becomes a very easy problem to discover.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I just went back and read your original post and wow, I’m really fighting back some tears myself John. You are incredibly brave to talk about this on here but you’re so right how important it is to remind ourselves of the things that truly matter. We only have so much time with the people who matter to us, and we will never regret making the effort to spend more time with them. I wish you and your family nothing but the best. Happy birthday Isaac!

  • Broke Millennial says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with your family today. This post made me want to call my parents and sister just to say I love you (which I’ll probably now do on my lunch break). Thank you for bringing some perspective to us all on this Monday morning.

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    Very touching post John. I read your original post but I didn’t want to because I knew it would be very emotional. My thoughts are with your family. Having our first child this past summer has certainly got my priorities straight. Family comes first. And the picture of your kids in their Halloween costumes is absolutely adorable!

  • MakintheBacon says:

    Since I teach group exercise classes part-time, I would have to say health and balance are a couple of things I prize the most. People become workaholics to the point where they become burned out, stressed out and it really affects their health. They neglect taking care of themselves. While I am somewhat of a workaholic, I do make sure to carve out a chunk of downtime here and there. I need to decompress right after work for an hour before I do things.

    • John says:

      I think we all need that and I am so guilty of not allowing myself to do just that. Not only is it good for you personally, it’s also loving to those around you.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Oh John. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to lose Isaac. My deepest sympathies to you and Nicole. Big virtual hug to you both. Money is something we so easily obsess about whether we’ re being wise or unwise with it. But at the end of the day, it’s just paper. What I prize most is my family. I try to squeeze 12 hours into an 8 hour work day so when I’m home with my family that I can focus on them. It is amazing how quickly they grow up. Lauren will be 10 this month – double digits! Thank you for the reminder to give them an extra hug and an I love you tonight.

    • John says:

      Thanks Shannon! I agree, our oldest will be there in a few short years and I shudder to think of how fast that time will pass by.

  • Fehmeen says:

    This is a very touching post and an excellent reminder to everyone to get their priorities straight in life. We often get so worked up about petty material issues but to what good? A person’s happiness lies in immaterial wealth – one’s children, parents, siblings. Thanks for sharing your story here. It has definitely changed my perspective about some things.

  • Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    Time is what I treasure most. Yesterday my husband and I cleaned the house and cooked a big dinner together and it was one of my most favorite days in a long time. Friends later joined us for dinner but spending that quality time, even doing chores, with a loved one makes you realize how important having time together is.

    Thanks for the great post, it’s so important to have reminders like these.

    • John says:

      I find even doing those mundane things, when you’re doing them with those near to you, can be really special. It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day, you want that time together.

  • Chad@thstockmarketandi says:

    My daughter. Nothing is even close.

  • Deacon Hayes says:

    John, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son Isaac. This is my first time hearing about it and it is truly heartbreaking. It is so true that are time is so valuable and we should be doing everything we can to spend it with those we love. I cherish spending time my family and friends and your post is a good reminder that I should keep that at the forefront of my mind. Thanks.

  • Catherine says:

    Happy Birthday sweet baby! My thoughts are with you and your family John.

    My daughter obviously is the center of my (and my entire family’s) world. She’s been a little under the weather and my heart hurts for her (nothing compared to what you or millions of other have endured). I just can’t wait for her to get better and be herself again.

    Having children prioritizes things I think. Nothing will ever be more important than her and everything i do is to provide the best life I can for her.

    • John says:

      Sorry your little one is under the weather. That is never fun. We have a bit of that going around our house and I always feel so bad for them.

  • AverageJoe says:

    Great post, John! That’s exactly why I left financial planning. It was fine, but I had too many important things I treasured that I was missing.

    • John says:

      Thanks Joe! I can certainly relate to that. You start seeing so much of life passing you by that something needs to be done about it.

  • E.M. says:

    Thank you for the emotional reminder, John. I’m so sorry you and your wife had to experience a loss so tremendous. You are so strong to come out on the other side, sharing your story. Family is very important to me, and I’ve missed my parents a lot since they moved away. I am very much looking forward to the day I can move closer to them. You’re right that time is precious, and we sadly never know how much of it we have left. I don’t want to have any regrets about not spending enough time with them.

    • John says:

      Right on E.M. those regrets are never fun. Time is indeed precious, which should cause us to appreciate it even more. Best wishes as you do move closer to your parents. πŸ™‚

  • Jacob says:

    Man-hug Jon. Thank you for being open about this, and praying your family knows how much you truly care for them all the time, even when it feels like it’s not quality time.

    The fact that you MADE DECISIONS to be home for work rather than leaving shows where your priorities are. Your kids will forever know that, as they learn that most don’t have that luxury. And you are modeling that money is not as important as family, not even close. And maybe you could even bookmark this post for them to read in the future πŸ™‚

    All the best.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jacob! I’d agree that working from home does show my priorities, those priorities can always get a little out of whack though. But, I’d rather be working from home dealing with this than not. πŸ™‚

  • jefferson @See Debt Run says:

    You’re a good man, John. And your post reminds me to kiss my kiddies. We are all shaped by the events in our lives that got us here, both good and bad.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jefferson, I appreciate that! You’re right, we’re shaped by both good and bad. You have to roll with the punches at the end of the day. πŸ™‚

  • JonnyP says:

    This was really touching John! Feeling really sorry for you and your family about the loss of Issac and a big thank you for reminding the value of family and the special moments that you get to spend with them.

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. My best friend passed away when we were 22, so I feel blessed whenever I get another year older. My mom just turned 71 and she knows not to complain about old age around me, because I always remind her how blessed she is to reach that age! My thoughts are with you and your family.

    • John says:

      So sorry you lost your best friend at such a young age Rebecca. Yes, each day we have is a blessing. The challenge is to view it that way and enjoy each day that is given to us.

  • robert@moneybulldog says:

    Thanks for sharing this John, it is the best and most honest post I have read in a long time. I am prone to getting too caught up in work or money worries and forgetting about what really matters to me. Best wishes to your family.

    • John says:

      Thanks for your kind words Robert! We’re all at that spot from time to time, the key is to recognizing it and taking time for us and those around us.

  • Jen @ The Happy Homeowner says:

    Sending you and your family a smile and a hug. Thank you for the beautiful reminder that there are far more important things in life than money. I prize my health, balance, and relationships. C’est la vie!

  • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

    I’ve been meaning to come back and comment on this. I was crying too much to get through it the first time! Such a beautiful message, John. Thanks for sharing with us. It’s a good lesson for me. I’m struggling with how much time I’m going to have with my kids and how much time I’m going to have for my business. I’m up late with all the rest of you working on these things, but I don’t want to miss anything that they might do. At the same time, I want set a good example of hard work and persistence, and I want them to know that both their dad AND their mom worked hard for them. It’s so hard, and posts like this show me how precious time really is.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the kind words Cat. It took me several run throughs before I could write it. That said, those are all normal feelings to have and know that you’ll be able to find the time to balance it all. The lessons you’re going to be providing to your two little blessings will be invaluable to them as they get older. πŸ™‚

  • Buck Inspire says:

    You are very brave to share such intimate pain. Not sure what to say, but I hope time has helped heal your wounds. Baby Buck is a year and a half and everything is quite a blur. Thank you for the reminder about time and family. It’s easy to forget and take for granted when you get caught up in the day to day!

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