Somewhere around 2004 my older brother and I were talking on the phone (quick side trip: he’s retired military, always saved and invested, worked during retirement). I talked about the house we had just bought and the two new cars (purchased on the same day) sitting in our driveway, and the side business we had started. Also probably discussed vacations and travel, as he liked to do a lot of that. At the time I was 40, he was roughly 58.

He asked me, “Have you ever considered your net worth?” I had not. But, that night a quick mental calculation summed it up to be equal to a box of Tic-Tacs.

He didn’t press the issue, or offer to compare his, or any of that. He just put the bug in my ear. We chose to get into a huge amount of debt, and it took a while for us to get on the right side of a net worth statement. I have another sister who I don’t really talk finances with but has been very successful in her career paths. Another sister commutes 45 miles each way to work, and has done so for 27 years all while maintaining her Factory Original Spouse (the only one of us to do so) and raising one perfectly outstanding daughter. My parents, both of whom have passed on, provided a loving, strict, functional household. Functional, as in they eschewed any elements that were dysfunctional, and of course there was some of that. They just chose wisely to not participate in it. I doubt they even knew they were doing it.

I am blessed that most of my family are high-quality humans. The friendships that Christie and I maintain are the same way. The effect of this Community is huge. I hope you are surrounding yourself with people who make you a better person. Parents, surround your child with quality people because they will model their lives after whomever you put there. Choose your friends wisely, be even pickier about those whom you date and marry.

Author and speaker Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. The people around you matter. Family, friends, co-workers, mentors. Choose wisely.