Is Getting More 'Stuff' a Reasonable Financial Goal?
- 2005 9 Dec
Henry David Thoreau spent the better part of his life writing about man’s attempt to find truth and meaning through simplified living. At some point he discovered he could live within the harmony and beauty of nature, with a clear conscience and only work six weeks a year to support his lifestyle.
Henry found it difficult to find a teaching job that matched his style so he worked briefly in his father’s pencil factory. At age 28, Thoreau built a small house on Waldon Pond and began to devote his time to his writing. Advocating the simple life, his Walden journey began with: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately..."
This does not describe the typical journey of a college graduate today. Rather, the expectation is an immediate six-figure income and the lifestyle that accompanies "success." We live in a society that embraces indulgent consumption as a visible status symbol. The fabulous house tells everyone that you have arrived, even if it takes two incomes and being trapped in an unfulfilling job to make it work. The house then sets the expectations for the country club membership, private schools for the children and attendance at the right social events. We work longer hours to pay for the new "stuff" and then have less time to enjoy it. We plead with God to bless us, but the only relief from the self-imposed pressure would be to win the lottery.
Where do we draw the line on consumption if we can "afford" the extras? Do you really need all of the house you "qualify" for? Should we really thank God for providing when we finance a car purchase equal to an annual income? Is a vacation in the Caribbean that much more satisfying than spending a week on a needy Indian reservation? Is it truly God’s will that we buy into the bondage of debt? How can we give generously when payments are overdue?
Perhaps we, like Thoreau, could take time to savor the beauty of nature around us and to smell the fresh roses of everyday life. "Simplify, simplify." "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -- Abraham Lincoln
From the Bible:
"Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs! For if I grow rich, I may become content without God. And if I am too poor, I may steal, and thus insult God’s holy name." Proverbs 30:8-9 (LB)
Direction for Today:
What would your life look like if you really had a simple life?
Dan Miller is President of The Business Source, founder of "48 Days" and author of 48 Days To The Work You Love and 48 Days To Creative Income. He is the growing authority for creating effective life plans that are achieved by integrating natural gifts, unique personality traits and one's own values and passions. His unique clarification of how God gifts us will introduce you to a new sense of freedom and fulfillment of your life's calling. For more information, visit http://www.48days.com/.