We often talk about maximising our investing profits, optimising for tax between ISA and pensions, or whether a 5% small-cap allocation in our portfolio is appropriate.
It’s easy to get lost in the details. The big picture was and will always be the same.
Money is just a tool to help us get what we want.
I want to share a recent story with you which turned our lives upside down. About a month ago my mother-in-law was feeling unwell. Fever, cough, chest feeling heavy, trouble breathing…
We all know what those symptoms are. For a 65-year-old, getting covid is high risk… She hasn’t even visited the grocery store or taken a taxi/tube since the pandemic started. But I’m not surprised. Covid is so easy to contract.
She had 3 COVID tests, all of them negative. The NHS suggested we stay at home and not come to the hospital yet, because there’s a risk of getting infected there or in the commute. Getting covid on top of whatever else she had would’ve been very hard to overcome, indeed.
So my mother-in-law stayed home for a couple of weeks while the GP prescribed antibiotics for pneumonia. After a couple of weeks the fever still persisted and situation was pretty much the same. Something had to be done. Time to take the plunge and go to the hospital for a lung xray scan.
The analysis was not what we wanted to hear. GP called a few days later and said ‘She needs to be referred immediately to the lung clinic because this is highly suspicious of lung cancer’.
Speechless. Out of nowhere.
Covid suddenly seemed trivial… I wish it was covid.
We couldn’t believe what was happening. We only wanted this bad dream to stop. Like, now!
Make it stop.
Mother never smoked although father-in-law was a heavy smoker many years back. You never know with these things and I’m not a doctor.
The lung clinic would see her in the next 2 weeks. The wait was literally killing us, especially my wife.
Hours felt like days.
If you’re waiting for something so important time stops. You suddenly realise how everything we take for granted should be valued higher!
And is a 2 week delay going to worsen her chances? What can we do? Calling a few private hospitals to be seen ASAP was the next step. She has no private insurance but if there’s something our financial fortress can buy is paying for things like this.
No questions asked, we paid the ~£1,000 for a CT scan the next day which showed that LUCKILY there was no sign of cancer.
What a relief! I couldn’t believe it. The doctor couldn’t say for sure, more examination is needed to verify that. It all seems to be a lung infection that’s persisting for longer than usual.
Why am I sharing all these dark details with you dear reader? Especially such a sensitive topic, that I’m sure people here have had bad experiences with. I’m sorry in advance for triggering emotions.
In this 72-hour journey, I was reminded what money can buy. How the £1,000 spent on private costs is actually buying such peace of mind. Regardless of the outcome, having the option to know such an important outcome earlier is so, so valuable.
We are fortunate to be in that position and have worked hard for it.
But this is what money is for!
Buying your way out of a really difficult situation. Making an ok experience much better. I’ve written before whether money can buy happiness. Well, if money can buy the lack of stress and an easy-going life, doesn’t that count? Or a debt-free life. One less thing to worry about.
An experience like this goes to show the importance of having your emergency fund topped up at all times.
This goes beyond health. Booking a pricey trip without having to do a stopover. Buying time when COVID ruins your business or when your employer shows you the door. Dining out at a Michelin restaurant to celebrate a big win.
Spending big on things that are valuable to you. Ramit Sethi calls them your ‘Money dials’ – spending more on things you value while cutting costs in things you don’t.
Your ‘money dials’ can be anything – fitness, gadgets, relationships, and yes, even non-fungible tokens 😉
Making decisions based on cost alone makes no sense because life does not happen in a spreadsheet. This does not mean YOLO spending is wise. In fact avoiding this is what allows us to do it from time to time and get the maximum value out of it.
I’m not the one to tell you what to spend or not spend on. I’m also not sure if my mother-in-law will be 100% ok when this story ends; we’re not out of the woods yet.
But if there’s something I learned from this story is that sometimes £1,000 is not always £1,000. But way more.
Price is what you pay, value is what you get.