Thursday, January 24, 2013

Is it enough for you??

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"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.

                                                       (source)

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?

23 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post. I was sad when it ended.

    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  2. Great post. I would say I am content and happy. It took a long way to get here but I have a home, a husband who goes to work and comes home every day, a pt job that I may not love but that's ok because I love the residents, I am content with our possesions. Yes we are making this our year to get out of debt but when I it comes down to it. I have a warm safe paid for home, a husband who loves my children as if he was there biological father, my mother lives with us and most days I love it, Im going back to school.

    But I think its about learning to be happy and content where you are and what you have. Yes I sacrificed a lot staying home with my kids but I would never give that time back, and yes we could find mom a condo and she would be ok but not happy and neither would I.

    You at a much younger age than me(Im 44) have realized what it took me until I was in my late 30's to realize. Happiness and contentment is all that matters.

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    1. Every single day I spend with my kids is so important for me too. You know, they say, that it's not about how much stuff you give your kids but how much time. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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  3. Fantastic post, Lena.
    I'm currently my mums carer in her home and it's hard seeing her going down hill all the time. However I'm content as we have enough and we get by and we don't have any debt except the mortgage and I'm learning to be frugal all the time and it's that that keeps our head above water. I know that this situaion will change in the future but it's now that counts.
    Carolx

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    1. I totally agree! You can't do anything about the past, and you can't change the future but what really counts is now where we can make a difference. Your Mom is so blessed to have you in her life!

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  4. I am becoming more content with my life as time goes on. As I see my kids grow and become independent, I feel as though a weight is being lifted. Is that a terrible thing to say? LOL

    I would say that we definitely have enough in the material sense but I wish we had more money saved up for retirement. We are almost out of time before the spouse quits his job ... he has a set timeline regarding when he wants to quit and has made it clear that he is quitting on that schedule. When that happens, we are going to have to live very very carefully indeed but ... I'm not worried about it. I know that we will be fine. We could live with even less than what we have right now and still be content. Having lived the life of rampant debt, having to work long long hours to make enough money to pay the bills, having a custom house built etc etc etc I can say now that materialism did not make us happy. It created a lot of stress and money mismanagement for me in particular but also for my spouse.

    We should've been saving and planning for the future instead of living in the moment and spending every cent we earned. That was a huge huge mistake, getting caught up in the consumer lifestyle the way we did. So, we are learning to do more with less but it's OK :)

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    1. I think you are doing great! Learning from our mistakes is what defines us too. As long as you, guys, work together, I know you will do it. Even if it means living on less :)

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  5. Wonderful post! Yes, we have "enough"! More than enough & for that I'm grateful! In a few months our income will be about $300-400 less than it is now, so I'm saving & trusting in God. He will provide! :)

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    1. I know He will. He doesn't make it easy but He makes it worth it, right? :) Good luck with your savings Carla!

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  6. Great post! We made the decision for me to stay home when our first was born (he turns 5 next month), and my husband was in the middle of med school at the time. It was scary and there is some debt as a result, but it was worth it and continues to be worth it. You do what is right for your family, but you are right about the contentment piece. If that isn't there, it makes it so much harder. Residency has been miles better than med school, at least in terms of money and time, but I suppose it is a ebb and flow, I am happier with our lot most of the time and then the envy monster might strike! :) I love your blog because I never feel that envy monster rear his head here; you inspire but you never judge and I think that is a great way to write. Keep it up, love it!

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    1. Well, that envy monster sometimes peaks his head in occasionally especially when I'm browsing through some decor blogs :) But I try to ban him as soon as he appears. Thank you for your kind words Erin!

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  7. Ditto everyone else's sentiments on the post... it is hard sometimes to make other people comprehend that you don't need to be debt free, rich, or even in a fantastic situation to have 'enough' and be content. I've been very content in spite of all of the challenges (financially, emotionally and otherwise) that get thrown my way. Sure, my debt situation sucks. Sure, my family situation sucks. But I have dear, dear friends that mean the world to me, and that makes me content. I also have so much that I could not have, and that realization alone makes me content (1.5~2 jobs I enjoy, great managers and co-workers, plans for the future, health). "It's not having what you want. It's wanting what you've got."

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    1. Perfectly said! You do have a lot on your plate, and I'm glad you find peace even going through all the hardships you face.

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  8. Funny you should post this, because I was just thinking about this yesterday. I love my life. I have every thing I need and all our bills get paid. I have good kids. I have a husband who loves me and goes out of his way to make sure I am happy. My life is good :) Great post!

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    1. Thank you Melissa! I can't totally relate! You are truly blessed!

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  9. I have given a lot of thought about what contentment is for me. I wondered if I could truly be content if I still wanted things. And the answer for me is yes. I can still want things, but be okay if I don't get them.

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    1. I want many things. I'm constantly working on something in the house because it doesn't look how I want it to. But I think this desire to be creative only adds to my contentment. New things don't define who I am, the things I worked on do :) And I know that I can live without many things but I can't live without those who are important in my life.

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  10. I was having a conversation with my neice in England via Facebook and decided just because they are blood relatives doesn't mean we think the same way as regards on how to deal with money. Her mother, brother and herself have no clue what it comes to money, made me so angry.

    I would like some more money, only so we can finish our renovations. If we didn't have those to do I would be more than happy with what we have.

    Thanks for the tips on the salad dressing,

    Gill

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    1. You are welcome, Gill :) And I absolutely agree that being relatives has nothing to do with how you deal with your money. My sister and I are both frugal, yet we have different priorities what we spend money on, what's important for us.

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  11. Great post! I love your attitude! It's so easy to complain about what we don't have, instead of focusing on our blessings. I've been trying to be more grateful lately.
    Susan

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