Saturday, October 11, 2008

My piggy bank is half full.

Like most of us, I've been watching my 401k bounce around and disappear like spit on a griddle. It's caused me to rethink a conversation I had when things were a bit more stable. I told someone that I wished I had understood the importance of money when I was younger, because then maybe I would have made an effort to make some. I suggested to her that money makes an enormous difference in what we experience in life, and in how well we weather hard times. And she said, 'that's it, isn't it; it all comes down to money.' Now, in retrospect, I think I misled her.

I had a time, long ago, when money would have meant the difference between having, and not having, food and shelter. But those necessities aside, most of the time we talk about money, we are really talking about extra money.

Obviously, extra money can smooth the way, but the whole Wall Street fiasco has forced me to think more about money than I usually do, and to feel more grateful for the things I already have.
Looking back, once the rent, utility and food bills were paid, it's true that money would have made travel and adventure easier for me. But it was fear more often than money that held me back. Fear of letting other people down, fear of being a fool, fear that I would lose my hard won sense of security, fear of not being able to support my children, fear of traveling alone or hurting some one's feelings if I left them behind. There is always an available excuse not to do what you want to do.

Looking ahead, the main reason I would like to have money is to do things for my children and grandchildren, and for the freedom it would give me to take my next job on the basis of (some yet undiscovered) passion rather than just for the paycheck. Shopping last night with my sister, I saw a million things I would have loved to buy, for my kids, my grandchildren, my sister, a baby girl that my nephew's friend finally had after 3 boys -- but I didn't see a single thing I need for me.

Not that I don't appreciate what money can do. The one vacation I took where money was no object was absolutely wonderful. But I've had plenty of good times that didn't cost a penny and, over all, most of my joy and laughter has been priceless, but not costly. And that's a good thing for me to remember, because a foundation of love and thankfulness is a lot more dependable than the value of the dollar.

5 comments:

The Farmer Files said...

So insightful. So true. Even with a half empty piggy bank, our hearts can be overflowing and cannot be contained. Much aloha.

Tootie said...

You are so right. And, just another thought to mull over for a minute. Your children and grandchildren may be better for not having a lot of extra things. I think it's time for you to concentrate on what will make you happy and work toward that. If you can do that, it will make your family happy too. And if you can't think of anything quickly, just come on down to Sanibel to sit on the beach, stare out at the ocean and figure it out. :-))

Randall said...

You hit the nail on the head. America started heading downhill in the 20th Century, when the people's faith was transplanted from their family and community to the dollar.

Hagar's Daughter said...

It seems that the dollar is America's god although many would deny this.

I've been re-learning a lesson of simple living. My epiphany happened in 2004 when I looked around one day and I seemed to have accumulated too much stuff. My first reaction was to empty my cupboards of bowls - don't ask why bowls because I don't know. But it was just a start of something deeper.

Great post.

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