Before any commercial airliner takes off, passengers are treated to some pre-flight safety instructions.
“Buckle up. No cell phones. No smoking in the lavatory. In case of emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else (even your kids).“
Help Yourself First
If I were on a plane with my family and the oxygen masks deployed, my instinct would be to help my kids get their masks on before I put on my own. But there is a reason we’re told to help ourselves first. It’s because we’re no good to anyone if we’re dead or unconscious.
I think the same concept holds true with our personal finances. We should all go into Airplane Mode and take care of ourselves before focusing too much on helping others.
I’m not advocating selfishness. I personally don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to be a good person and help out where they can. But our desire to be helpful could hinder our good intentions if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
Once we’re on stable financial ground we can do far more good in the long run, while reducing the likelihood that we’ll need to ask for help ourselves at some point in the future.