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6 Money and Life Lessons From the Chilean Miners

This article was written by in Best Of, Family and Life. 7 comments.


The world cheered as the thirty-three miners trapped a half-mile underground in Chile for more than two months were pulled aboveground to safety. The rescue mission was a fantastic success. Aside from the miners, no one can be happier for their survival of the ordeal than their families. Mining is a risky profession even when mines are relatively safe, and I know how unlikely it is that I would ever wish to work every day with the constant threat of being trapped.

From an event like this, observers like me can do not much more than take away some good tips for living our lives and handling our finances.

1. Life is more important than money. Mining is a risky business, but men around the world take these jobs because their paid relatively well and helps them provide for their families. This may be obvious, but it’s good to have a reminder occasionally. You can always earn more money, but a lifetime is a finite resource. Don’t get bogged down with financial details to the point at which it affects your ability to live; keep it simple so you can spend your time living.

2. Prepare your family. These families were lucky; the breadwinners have lived to work another day. They will go on living, providing for their families, for what I hope will be a long time. The situation could have easily been worse, and that income would have disappeared. In financially sophisticated societies like the United States, life insurance is available to help families survive after the permanent loss of an income. Have life insurance if anyone else relies on your income for their well-being.

3. Stay organized. If you are the individual who takes care of the family finances by paying the bills and monitoring the accounts, think like a business and create a succession plan. Train someone else in the family, your wife, husband, child, or parent, for example, to access all the information that is needed to take care of the financial necessities in the event you find yourself unavailable for an extended period of time.

4. Never lose hope for the future. In a tough ordeal like this, hope can be a powerful enough force to keep someone alive. Draw upon hope by thinking about your family and friends, and when you are with them, ensure they understand your appreciation.

5. Even today’s big issues are not so big. As all miners survived a worst worst case scenario, there is never reason for anyone else to believe that they can’t make it through everyday problems that are much more trivial. When all you care about is surviving until the next day, it doesn’t matter who the president is, you won’t be upset you missed your favorite television show, and there is no need for the latest iPhone. In the end, these things will hardly matter.

6. Teamwork results in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Even people who function best individually rather on a team should work to align themselves with like-minded people. Whether you’re working on a team or being a member of a group with whom you have interests in common, you will have a support group when needed. Living is a social activity, and people who associate in groups of any sort are happier, more successful, and live longer than those who chose to be alone.

I’m inspired by stories of survival, and I often wonder if I have what it takes to survive the same ordeals. I don’t know what I would do when faced with a terrible situation. I do hope my survival instinct is strong enough. For those of us whose exposure to danger is limited to driving daily on the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, or similar highway, our problems are never as bad as we often believe they are.

Updated December 21, 2010 and originally published October 14, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jenna

Oh man! That was a powerful 24+ hours!

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avatar Dave@50plusfinance

Another lesson learned was what free men in a free country can do. It’s been reported by miners in China that they feel if the same thing happened to them they would be left to die. Our foundation of freedom and individualism has gotten us out of many messes and helped keep the world on a path of self-determination. The NASA engineers who designed the escape pod and the Chilean team who built it, is evidence of this.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

So… it almost sounds like you’re saying government intervention (through NASA) saved the miners in Chile, and China should have more government intervention in the private sector, but I don’t think that’s what you meant.

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avatar katydidindeed

NASA – a US government agency designed the Phoenix II rescue capsule and the Chilean Navy built it. A Chilean government owned company planned and executed the rescue effort. The company that owned the mine was too small to afford and was not equipped to perform the rescue. The Chilean government had to take over. Chilean President Pinera was there for the entire operation, from the first miner to the last rescuer. So yes, government intervention played a major role in saving the lives of these 33 men. It would not have happened otherwise. Compare that to all the US miners that have died because their greedy owners cut corners with total disregard for the safety of their employees.

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avatar Dave@50plusfinance

I’m just saying that more innovation and the fruition of ideas can take place in a free society like Chile and the USA, than in a communist society. I would like to see the escape pod device or some form of it put into all mines. The comment about the Chinese miners is about how they feel about their governments reaction to the same kind of event. Government intervention is a two edge sword. They are all powerful with cash, assets and people to act quickly in an emergency. Government is a great tool to serve the peoples needs. I am just leary of a government that can supply all our needs can also take it back and more. I have a healthy distrust of goverment. Flexo, this was a great article. Didn’t mean to get all ‘Glenn Beck’ on anyone.

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

Getting back to the heart of the story, this shows that sometimes after all the “crap” that we get bogged down with, we forget how good life can be. We have some bills but we’re not trapped somewhere in the earth’s crust.

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avatar 4hendricks ♦248 (Cent)

I agree tigernicole86 – it’s the crap that bogs us down – I would hate to be trapped underground, but above ground, we usually do it to ourselves!!

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