The Difference Between Hurt and Harm

I am currently reading Boundaries, a book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

It’s a great book to read and discuss with close friends, which is what I’m doing. The book is an easy read that teaches how to set reasonable boundaries in order to follow the true path of Christianity.

Boundaries and Hurt vs Harm

Do you have good boundaries?

While reading chapter five, I stumbled upon a couple of anecdotes related to setting boundaries that really resonated with me. I think they can be applicable for our finances. The first I’ll share with you today:

Hurt vs. Harm

In the book, the writers share a simple lesson using kids, sweets, and the dentist. A quick summary: As kids we love sweets; they taste so good and make life great.

However, sweets ultimately are bad for us by causing cavities. On the flip side, filling cavities at the dentist hurts us, but ultimately makes us feel better.

The lesson here is that some things can hurt us, without harming us (filling cavities) AND things that feel good can really be harming us (eating sweets).

Application to Our Finances

Activities like tracking expenses, getting out of debt, finishing an education, saving for emergencies and retirement, living a frugal life, all hurt a little bit because they initially require a bit of effort and change of lifestyle.

But like filling cavities, these things won’t harm us. They all end up bringing lasting success to our lives. They have for me at least so far.

On the flip side, if you’re like me sometimes, you might want to take the easy route and avoid these things that may hurt a bit at first.

I challenge you in these tough moments to remember the difference between a hurt and a harm and to make the choice that will bring you a sweet future.

Photo: by jbushnell

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Last Edited: May 22, 2017 @ 1:48 pmThe content of is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka “PT”, is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!


  1. Hi Philip, that was a good analogy even people without a good knowledge about finance will surely grasp the meaning you’re point out. 🙂