The Risks and Rewards of Fire

I took my son camping for the first time a little while ago.

And the first lesson was – be careful around the fire.

“Why?” he asked, more by reflex than actual curiosity.

So I explained to him, as I carried the firewood from the car, that a fire is dangerous.

That while it’s nice to be near it so that it can warm you up, and that it can be nice to look at while you’re sitting there, you can also get really, really hurt by it.

And I showed him the scar I have from the time I got burnt at work when I was a kid. It’s faded, and he wasn’t really paying attention, but I hope the message got through.

Two Sides of the Coin (Fire).

Because getting too close to the fire, as we all know, can take it from nice and warm to tears and blisters awfully quickly.

So we’re careful, and cautious, so we can avoid getting burnt. And those of us that have been burnt before are perhaps twice as careful.

I realised, later that night after he’d gone to sleep in the tent and I was sitting by the fire, that this can also apply to our experience with money.

And that this is especially the case for some of the people we work with.

Memories of Financial Burns Past

Because we’re seeing people that are already carrying some financial history. They’ve, often, been through the financial wringer already.

They have the blisters from previous mistakes; they have the scars from bad advice.

And these experiences translate into real reluctance to go anywhere near the fire again. “No way – I’m not going to do anything with money, it’s too hard/risky/scary/intimidating/confusing.”

Then their divorce starts.

And, all of a sudden, they’re being asked for detailed financial information.

They’re being expected to understand financial concepts.

They’re being asked to make big, frightening decisions about their money, their future, their life.

And they look down at their fingers, see the blisters and scars, and the nerves kick in.

They’re scared.

Of making a mistake, of looking silly, of being ripped off.

This reflex is completely natural and utterly understandable. If you’ve already been burnt, then the last thing you want to do is put your hand back near the flames.

Use the Scars

But getting burnt in the past isn’t a reason to avoid fire completely. After all, there are some benefits to it.

Same goes with your finances. Your scars from what’s gone before don’t have to prevent you from ever dealing with it again.

Sure, it takes a superhuman level of bravery to step forward and take back control of your money after you’ve been dudded, stuffed around and just plainly ripped off.

But by doing so, you will be taking back control – bit-by-bit – of a crucial part of your life. And this will translate into more confidence in other parts of your life too – again, bit-by-bit.

So, instead, try again. Be careful, of course, because it’s scary, but try again.

Find somebody to help, if need be, but try again.

Because, just like with fire, it’s better to be careful and warm, than scared and frozen.

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