2. What decision (or decisions) most shaped your life as it is now?
Probably the decision to talk to a financial planner 30 years ago. I had about 3 months between the time I told IBM I was leaving and my actual leaving. And not much to do every day. So I studied the benefits book to see if there were any I needed to take advantage of. I found one that paid for the initial consultation with a financial advisor. They listed three companies and I picked the first one and made an appointment. Because of that, I have enough money now to live very comfortably exactly the way I want to. Boredom pays!! (And, while the guy I talked to that day retired a few years ago, he sold his practise to the guy who manages my finances to this day.)
A couple of notes. 1. At the time I first went to this financial planner, I had $0 savings. IBM paid me, I think, about $12,000 to leave (umbrella-ish deal) and the job I had lined up to go to after IBM was iffy at best (and actually lasted only a couple of months). So I was clearly in need of financial help. I got very lucky in my selection of advisors but I also knew immediately, he was for me.
No one is really asking for advice here, but if someone wanted to know how to go about picking a financial planner, I'd offer a few simple guidelines. Make sure they are a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and that they charge a flat-ish fee (as opposed to a per transaction fee) and - most importantly - you feel comfortable with them.
I'd say if you are on the fence about even going to one, do it. Go talk to one and see.
The other note is that 2. Because of the great advice and help I got, I now have enough money so that I no longer worry about how to pay my bills and feed myself and pay for Biggie's surgeries.
I thought about that after the Moment Of Joy answer the other day. I can afford to wallow in moments of joy far more easily than most. This is always always always my greatest moment of joy. I never take it fore granted ever.