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Friday, November 21, 2014

How Much Does It Take?

Trent and I have enjoyed playing a fun game lately. We'll be driving down the street, for example, and one of us will say, "When we win the $10,000 a week for life sweepstakes, we're going to hire that landscaping company to design our yard." "When we win $5000 a week for life, we're going to travel all around the world." We both think it's good to have dreams, even if they're pipe dreams (AKA unattainable hopes or dreams). We aren't living in a fantasy, by any means. We know that the chances of us becoming wealthy are remote to non-existent. Our feet are firmly rooted in reality and we know that our fate is likely to be one of simply getting by. This is fine because, although we aren't living high off the hog, we are sheltered, clothed, and fed, which means that we are well and truly blessed.

There certainly is something bewitching in the idea of being set for life. Being able to go wherever you wish, whenever you wish, having a home and a vacation home (mine would be in my family's village in Hungary), and having whatever you wish with no struggles, all sounds fabulous. But is it really necessary for one's happiness? I remember telling my Grammie many years ago that I knew what being rich meant. If you were able to pay all of your bills and buy food and have enough money left over to do things on the spur of the moment like go out to dinner and a movie, or take a trip once in a while, you were truly rich. I am happy to say that all these years later, I still know this to be true. 

This also begs the question - how much does it take? What is true wealth? I recently told our friends that it doesn't take millions of dollars to change someone's life completely. While I certainly would be thrilled (heck, I'd be over the moon!) to suddenly have a million dollars at my disposal, the amount of money that it would take to change my life is, by comparison to more grandiose dreams, relatively small. And isn't that a wonderful thing? A thousand dollars might change the life of a poor family in India or Africa or even the USA. Someone who lives near you right now might be that person who would be able to get and hold a better job if they had a thousand dollars to put toward the purchase of a used car. A mother in India might be able to start a home-based business with the same amount, and feed her family as well as those of one or two workers. Another family in the USA might be able to pay off their debts and put a down payment on a home, all for twenty-five thousand dollars.

I'm glad that I am able to both dream extravagantly and realize that a far smaller amount would make me rich, indeed. Yes, if the famous "Prize Patrol" comes knocking at my door, I will gladly and promptly answer. But I don't need to be as wealthy as Warren Buffett, or Jimmy Buffett for that matter, to be comfortable. A more modest form of substance would suit me just fine.