Some of the people I know who were making buckets of money a couple of years ago are going through some hard times. And, some of my closest friends have become the victim of layoffs. In this economy, so many people are crying the blues. So, I thought I would pass along some uncommon wisdom from a lady who wasn’t known for her financial prowess. But, she truly did have nothing left to lose and she didn’t care if the whole world knew it.
Feeling Good was Good Enough for Me
Looking back at some of the toughest times in my life, I can honestly say that I was happy. When I was 21 and very broke, I could survive a whole day on a hamburger and find beauty in the sunset, while I was surfing on an empty stomach. I didn’t need any material goods to make me happy. I was happy just to lay in the sun and have a roof over my head.
Obviously, my life got a little more complicated after I got married, had kids and bought a house. But, I felt the same simple pleasure when I was laid off for six months in 2002. I would sit on a bench at the beach eating a bean burrito and think about how lucky I was to be sitting in the sunshine.
The main difference between these two periods in my life is that I had money saved up the second time around. So, I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay my bills or find my next meal.
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
This week, I was looking at motor homes on Craigslist. I’m not ready to buy yet, so I was just dream shopping. Anyway, I came across a beautiful Class A motor home that was for sale in a bankruptcy auction, along with a Mercedes 560 SL. I thought it was a cruel twist of fate to lose everything in a bankruptcy auction. But, that’s the risk people take when buying expensive items on credit. Income can disappear quickly, while payments last for years.
It doesn’t really matter how much money people make or how many toys they buy. If they continuously spend more than they earn, sooner or later, they will be headed for bankruptcy. On the other hand, if they can afford some toys and experiences without going into debt, then why shouldn’t they enjoy them? Life is short and happiness can be fleeting.
You Know you Got it, If it Makes you Feel Good
For me, happiness doesn’t come in a box or from a store. It doesn’t come with leather seats, Hi-Def or a swimming pool. It comes from the freedom to do as I choose and the ability to live without worry. The most important things in my life aren’t things all. They are the people, places and experiences that brighten my life in countless ways.
Looking ahead, my fondest dream is to return to the simple happiness I felt as a young man. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up all of my possessions and live an idle life. It means I’m going to pay off debt and save money, so I can enjoy my days without worry. And, I am going to cultivate income streams that can’t be taken away by an angry boss or a fickle economy. At least, that’s my dream for now. I will keep you posted on my progress.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that saving a little bit of money right now could help avoid a whole lot of worry later on. And, spending a little bit of time planning for the future could provide a life of peace and happiness.
“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got.”
Janis Joplin – American Blues Singer