Sometimes, it’s easy to focus too much on money and forget why money is important. To me, the most important reason to have money is so that my family and I can thrive– e.g., to pay for food, shelter, clothes, medicine, health care, etc. — the basic living needs. Once these basic needs are satisfied, money is important so that I can improve the quality of life for my family. Lastly, money is important because I want to be able to secure our financial future — e.g., our retirement, our children’s education, etc.
Unfortunately, too many people mistaken money itself as something important.
I would like to share a story that I really like with you. There are many variations of this story floating around. Here is a YouTube video version of the story:
Here is a text version, which I got from Piffe the Puffin:
The Big Rocks of Life!
One day a wise teacher was speaking to a group of his students. He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Looking carefully from face to face, he smiled benevolently and asked again, “Is the jar full?”
His class was catching on quickly. “Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Very good!” he replied. He then reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. When he was finished he once again asked, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted.
“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Once again looking intently into the eyes of each student, he asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”
“Aha, that’s very good!” the teacher replied, “But let us look a bit deeper. This illustration also teaches us a higher truth: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all!”
So what are your big rocks in life?
Is it money, your career, or prestige? Perhaps, those are just gravel or sand that you’ve mistaken for big rocks.
Personally, my big rocks are my family and friends; particularly the happiness, security, and financial future of my family. This philosophy is why I don’t spend money on frivolous stuff like big-screen TVs, luxury cars, and Rolex watches.
I hope you enjoyed the story!
Pinyo Bhulipongsanon is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance and a Realtor® licensed in Virginia and Maryland. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, financial literacy author, and Realtor®.