Today, in honor of Earth Day, I decided to recycle some office paper. I salvaged the paper clips and binder clips to reuse but otherwise tossed 3-4 years of my working life into the trash. The files started with 2003 and were thick with the defects I fixed for each release of the Big Fat Enterprisewide App, but by 2005 the defects were thinning and I wondered if maybe I was programming myself out of a job. In 2006 I received kudos for a task well done, that task being training our replacements, and again I wondered if I was doing too good a job. But I'm still here! Less one file drawer of paper to move to the new building, the new building that has not yet been started.
Thanks for participating in my honesty survey, although after giving it some thought, the survey may have actually been about money. Otherwise honest and noble individuals are often reduced to dunderheads when it comes to money. I'm surprised by those who cannot NOT spend every cent they earn (and then some!) or those who are well off but can't part with a single dollar for charity or those who think they are poor but can afford to send their kids to parochial school. And what we each are willing to spend money on is also very telling indeed.
I've come to the conclusion that I will never be rich, will always have to work for a living, but will also not become homeless or destitute, partially due to dumb luck but also because I try to make wise financial decisions. Somehow I have always found a job when I needed one, always made enough money to get by (although at times, things were a little tight), chose to have only two children, chose to own only one car, chose to live in a modest house (which is almost paid off!) I don't carry a balance on my credit cards, I avoid buying things I don't need, and I make an effort to share my so-called wealth with a variety of charities that are important to me.
While I am happy to buy my kids the occasional gift, they are both self-supporting adults who do not need my money (of which I am SO proud!) Several of those co-workers who thought I should keep the tax refunds that were not mine to keep subsidize the lifestyles of some of their adult relatives, presumably because they equate money with love and/or to assuage guilt. One fellow may wind up in bankruptcy because of his "generosity".
Several years ago (before the current economic downturn), my financial advisor suggested I was living too far below my means. But I look around and wonder, What else could I want? Really, the only thing I want right now is to be able to retire as soon as possible. Living below my means will help me toward that goal better than anything else. Besides, when you buy something, you have to take care of it even if you don't use it much, and also find a place to keep it. My house is small and my time is limited, so I'd rather keep my belongings to a minimum.
I know. I'm a bad consumer.