"At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, the author Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel "Catch 22" over it's whole history. Heller responds, "Yes, but I have something he will never have...Enough." (Bogle, 2007, taken from a book "The Inner World of Money" by Marty Martin).
I have a lot of friends. They differ by age, social status, skin color, race, nationality and income. They also differ by their amount of debt (or lack thereof) and how they handle finances. About a week ago I had two separate conversations about money with two of my friends.
The first friend is about my age, in her early thirties. They live in a nice house in a great neighborhood. They have a son. They both work (different schedules, so no need for daycare), and their combined income is twice as much as ours. They also have lots of debt. Every month they pay $1000 to their creditors. And every time we talk, she complains how they don't have enough money for all their needs. How when Murphy strikes, they have to clear out their savings and use credit cards all the time. Yet they both have Iphones, their cars are much nicer and newer than ours, every year they throw a big Birthday party for their son. I love her dearly, she's a great gal! But at the end of every conversation we have, she says, "I don't know how you do this. I need to learn from you!" It's been like this for years...
The other conversation that I had was with a dear friend of mine who is in her late fifties. For the past 25 years she was a single Mom of six. All of her kids are older now, and all but one are out of the family nest (and the one that still lives with her is more than old enough to be on his own!). When we talked, she remembered how her husband left her, and she was all by herself with little kids making only $5/hour. I do realize that back then $5 meant a little more than it does now but still. What struck me the most is when she said, "We did it, and we had enough".
What does it mean for you to have enough? About 7 years ago, when we found out that I was pregnant, we made a decision that I would become a stay-at-home Mom. Just a warning: I'm not trying to turn this post into a debate on how to raise your kids. I know many people who worked full-time and raised amazing children. I admire them! This was the choice that we felt was right FOR OUR FAMILY! And I still feel, we made the right decision for us. We have to sacrifice a lot. We don't have much for our wants and sometimes don't even have enough for our needs. Things happen. People often ask me how we manage to spend less than $300 a month for groceries and necessities.
I'm not about to go through the list of things you can do to save money. I doubt I could say anything you haven't heard before. More I wanted to talk about being content with what we have already.
Are you content with your life? Do you have enough? Do you think you can live with a little? Or even with less? Or should you be always on the look out for more ways to make money? More things to have? And I'm not saying it's a bad thing to try to find a source of extra income. But does it determine who you are?
I'm still learning to be content. After my husband finished school and was looking for a better job for six months with no success, I was very unhappy. He was too. I thought, we would never make it. But then we decided to put our ambitions aside and trust in the Lord. Six months later, here we are. Hubby still has the same job but surprisingly we have enough. I also got a little side gig to do from home which really helps with extra stuff we want to do. But most importantly, we learned (learning) to be content, grateful and happy with what we have. It doesn't mean that I don't want to go for a Hawaii trip one day any more but those "wants" don't determine who I am. It's not about how much money you have. There are a lot rich and unhappy people out there. It's about who you are, and what makes you strong.
"...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in
all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to
abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:11-13)
Are you happy with where you are in your life? Are you content? What can be improved? How can you help others to learn from your experience?