Good Morning Middle America, your King of Simple News is on the air.
In a post to my last article, alert reader Kathy P. said, “I wonder what ‘living within one’s means’ will mean during the next few years.” That comment made me think about something that I had heard many years ago.
But before I tell that short story, let’s talk about living within our individual means. I have friends from every walk of life, from the monetarily poor to the very wealthy, I’m a lucky guy. I think no higher of the wealthy than I do the poor and I say that with complete truthfulness.
The main difference in my friends across the wealth spectrum is the degree of grandeur and consumption that they practice in their everyday lives. The rich simply live more grandiose and consume more in the process.
So then, are the less wealthy also less happy for necessarily having to practice a lesser amount of consumption? In the case of my friends and acquaintances the answer is no. That is because their lifestyles tend to be a choice and they are satisfied with that choice. Some chose freedom from debt, regardless of their consumption limitations…that was my choice and the route that I constantly recommend.
Those who wish to incur enormous debt and live far above their means will not be salvageable in the coming years. I wish that I could say that I’m sorry for them, but I’m not. Ignorance in a country that offers free education is inexcusable.
And now, that story that I was going to tell. Many years ago, I and a friend attended a paid seminar in Seattle that was booked as “The Wealth Academy.” During the lecture, one of the speakers said, “Everyone should put some money back each month as an investment and for a safety net.”
One of the attendee’s interrupted him and said that with the rising cost of living, he and his wife simply didn’t have any money left at the end of the month to put back.
The speaker quietly asked the man if he and his wife made more than minimum wage. To which he answered indignantly, “Of course we do.”
The speaker then asked if this man knew anyone who made minimum wage, to which he responded, “I suppose that I do.” The speaker then asked, “Are those minimum wage earners dead or alive?”
The man seemed perplexed at the question, but hesitantly said, “They’re alive.”
The lecturer then concluded, “So you could have money left at the end of the month, you just don’t want to. Therefore, I can’t help you.”
It was very quiet in that crowded room as each of us rethought our own situation. The attendee, while embarrassed, stayed for the entire two day presentation and perhaps garnered more than anyone from that simple truth that he had unexpectedly learned about himself.