Put on your Own Financial Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others

If you have ever flown on an airplane you have heard the safety speech given before takeoff.

Make sure to buckle your seat belt.

Locate the nearest exit.

In the case of an emergency put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.

Normally when you hear this you are still jockeying for elbow space. You could care less and just want to make it through the upcoming flight.

However, the last tip to help yourself before others can be applied to all aspects of life. When it comes to personal finance it is extremely important to help yourself before you can help others.

Finances are not Perfect

If you have any sort of life experience dealing with finances, you realize quickly no one is perfect. Most strive to do the best they can and then life happens, and you land where you land.

So, it is no surprise that many of those you love and care for might run up against money issues. The problem is that financial resources are limited. Extremely limited if you yourself are just getting started in life.

So, what do you have to do to get your own financial footing?

Learn to say no!

Saying no is tough.

It is a life long skill to be able to say no. Yet it is so much more important than most of us realize.

Saying no hurts. It is unnatural and feels mean. The easy route is to say yes to everyone avoid conflict and do it all.

Over committing yourself in life will wear you down and spread you thin. Your financial life is no different. Eventually you will find that if you try to help everyone your own finances will begin to crumble.

Position Yourself First

Most people are not good with money, duh! They earn it, they spend it, rinse and repeat.

You on the other hand are actively working to understand money and better your life. You are reading a personal finance blog after all.

So, get your own financial oxygen mask positioned first before helping those around you. If you focus on building wealth over time your money will become abundant. You will no longer need all of the money you are earning.

This is when it gets amazing!

Only an asshole would want to spend every dollar ever earned on themselves. Change your life and then change the lives of those around you.

Teach them how you have gotten to where you are and give them tips on how to do the same. If you have invested well over time you will be able to pass down techniques and money to your family. This will be a massive help to all those who come after you.

Don’t be Scrooge McDuck

It is important to focus on yourself first and foremost. If you are not solid you will not be able to help others when it counts.

However, this does not mean you can’t lend a helping hand along the way. If you have your basics covered, you can help family and friends in small ways and scale up over time.


This is a simple concept.

If every time you make money you give it to family or friends who need it and they spend it then it is gone! Instead build a pile of investments that pay you every month, quarter, or year. Then use the earnings and change the lives of those around you.

Let your tree keep growing and spitting out more earnings then pass the tree to the rest of your loved ones.

Make a lifetime difference in the lives of those you love instead of a one-time deposit!

What Are Your Thoughts?

  1. How do you financially help friends and family in need in your life?
  2. Have you had to say no to helping someone in the past?
  3. What level of giving do you feel you should provide to your loved ones?

Spread The Wealth!

25 Comments on “Put on your Own Financial Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others”

  1. Balance is key in more ways than one. This post is a great example of why.

    It might seem selfish at times, but I really do believe you need to take care of yourself first. Not just from a financial perspective, but in other areas.

    To your point, this doesn’t have to be a certain extreme or an all or nothing approach. You can still help others and build up that level of support over time.

    Nice post, DM. Thanks for sharing. – Mike

    1. Agreed Mike. It is not just with finances either.

      If you are not taking care of yourself first and foremost it is hard to help others.

  2. Yep, you nailed it right on!

    Cannot help others when you can’t help yourself. A lot of my friends and coworkers still think I’m selfish when I say this… *sigh*

    So, after reading this post, I was thinking this is exactly what I’ve been doing for my parents. Instead of giving them money (bc I know they will spend it) I invest it aside for them in the future when they need it. I feel that this will help me in the future and avoid any financial stress. I can’t help them as much as I’d like today. But I’m helping myself today, so that I could help them tomorrow… if that makes any sense lol.

    1. Very cool of you to be doing that!
      I have sent cash to family and it feels great. I do what I can now and I know they appreciate it.

      Overall though I know I have to change things up big time in my life to make a difference. The wealth gap grows because wealthy families get this, once someone builds it they learn how to live off of it.

      My goal is to build up a large portfolio and give it to those who need it MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS INCLUDED!

  3. Very nice analogy 🙂

    I think Warren Buffett is the best example of this. He spent decades building up his wealth and now he’s donated billions to charity and will give even more when he passes. Sure, he could have probably done a bit more when he was younger, but he can help a lot more people now!

    Personally, my close family have never asked for money before. Don’t know if that’s because they have been fine or if they’re too proud. However, I try to help by giving advice instead. And I’ve been known to give gifts once in a while…especially to my nephew!


    1. Warren Buffett was the man for the job to build it all up. Now the impact will be massive.

      That is sometimes even better! Helping with the fun parts of life is great.

  4. I don’t think I would just give money to friends and family. Though I am still in the accumulation phase so I might have a different perspective when I have achieved FI. I hope that my friends and family don’t expect me to give them money just because I might be wealthier in the future. I do treat for meals often and may pay for trips but I don’t give cash straight up. I would rather teach my siblings how to invest for themselves.

    1. Important to teach someone about money before giving them any. The reality is if you give it to them and they don’t know any better it will disappear pretty quickly.

    1. That’s fantastic!

      When friends and family are all doing great you are living a great life. When everyone you love is taken care of it is a great feeling.

  5. How do you financially help friends and family in need in your life? Fortunately I haven’t been asked ever, if rarely. But I have offered up a few grand to family without prompting once or twice.

    Have you had to say no to helping someone in the past? I haven’t. Yet. But the kids aren’t grown up yet. 🙂

    What level of giving do you feel you should provide to your loved ones? As much as you can — to the point you’re clear their intentions to work hard and make good decisions to earn your TRUST.

    1. That is awesome you have never been approached.

      The kids might change things haha. Although I think 50% starts with how parents teach their children about money. I have a feeling you will have that covered.

      I agree with you.

  6. This is an awkward conversation to have with people you know. I’ve been confronted and it wasn’t easy. But this also true because the ones that confronted me, even though they are friends are kind of “funny” with it comes to money

    1. It is awkward.

      If someone has never experienced it then they just don’t understand. It is tough to say no to someone you care about as well.

      You want them to do well but if they are “funny” with money then you know it won’t do any good.

      May as well light that cash on fire in some situations…

  7. You are d*** right!

    It is absolutely critical that you take care of yourself first financially before you help others. If you are constantly shelling out your money towards your friends and family, and never turn down an invitation to go out, your finances will struggle to get ahead.

    One tough task I had to do in the past year was to show my sister why it was more important to max out her Roth IRA before funding her daughters college fund. Although most parents want to help their kids afford college, doing it at the expense of your own retirement is DEVASTATING. I had to show her that although she is helping her daughter, she is completely ignoring her own financial future. By doing this, she could potentially hurt her daughter in the long-term by never having the money for her own retirement, which could potentially leave a financial burden on her daughter. Also, you can borrow if needed for college. You can never borrow money for retirement.

    Great post!

    1. Each child will have different requests. I am sure you will do a good job of raising them to understand the basics of money so they wont be looking for a hand out!

  8. Free room and board for my three kids ! Need I say more?:)
    I did help one of my brothers once when I couldn’t really afford to, but I was still better of than he was. I learned my lesson, won’t do that again!

    1. It is tough in situations like that. Helping out when we can is awesome if it is done in the right way.

      Sometimes though it doesn’t really make any impact.

  9. It’s very tough to discuss about finances with friends and family. We do discuss about how the stock market is or about bitcoin since its been in the news a lot. But when it comes to dealing with our own finances, it comes off as taboo. I guess that some are too embarrassed to talk about their financial situation in a social setting and would rather figure it out on their own.

    1. Personal finance is not something that most people want to openly discuss.

      Like you said discussing bit coin, real estate, the stock market is one thing. Yet when you get into the details no one wants to to really share.

      Discussing finances is not really even necessary unless someone is asking for direct advice I don’t bother.

  10. Hi Damn Millenial,

    I agree that to help yourself before others can be applied to all aspects of life. Luckily friends and family don’t tend to ask me for money which is great. I think I only had to give money to a friend once in my life, and it was less than a hundred dollars! So I call myself lucky that normally people don’t see me like an ATM machine. I would be uncomfortable if it happened often and although I’m a softie, I’m sure that out fear that people got used to it I would find a way to say no. I think the level of giving should be reasonable, sounds mean but at this point in my life when I’m starting to build wealth, I have to take a conservative approach. 🙂

    1. Nothing wrong with a conservative approach!

      Do whatever you can do that makes you feel comfortable. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be in a position to give.