By now the new year is well under way. Some of you made resolutions to start the year, and some of you are working on pursuing and keeping them. Most have let your resolutions slide.
May I suggest contentment as a resolution? (No, it’s never too late to make and pursue a good resolution!)
What is contentment? One definition is “mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” For most people, the mental and emotional are fairly well tied together. And, for most people their financial situation has a major bearing on their mental and emotional state. I use contentment here to mean not needing things to be different in order to be happy or in order to please someone else.
Most of us could probably be content with what we already have or even with less than we have. We have just never had much opportunity to experience anything that makes that clear to us.
A friend was recently talking about time spent in Africa. He commented on the fact that the people he spent time with had nothing, compared to you and me, yet seemed very happy with their lives. That is not to say there weren’t things they needed, but they were happy in spite of their needs.
How might you achieve a level of contentment in your financial life?
– Be patient. You can’t have it all (where would you put it?), and you can’t have it all now.
– Budget for, or save up for, things you need or want.
– Focus on what is important for you. Deal with your situation without being caught up in anyone else’s situation. Trying to keep up with the Jones’s, as nice as they are, or worrying about the grass on the other side, will not help your satisfaction level.
– Be practical. Do you need to replace a car every 3 to 4 years and always have a car payment or lease payment? What could you do with the money from the monthly payment if the car you drive was paid for?
– Will your family be provided for if you are no longer there to provide for them? Is adequate life insurance and disability insurance in place?
Your planning should mirror your present stage of life and things going on in your life right now. That does not mean, however, ignoring future needs and plans. Addressing your current stage of life should address both current and long-term objectives. After all, what you do now will impact your future. Even if you are not able to do some of the things you want to do now, or if you have to change some of the plans already put in place, you may be able to pursue those things or plans in the future.
In a previous article I referred to greed. I said then that having things or wealth is not bad in and of itself, but what is bad is allowing the desire for things or wealth to be excessive or out of control and to overwhelm common sense and good judgment.
Solomon said “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.” (Ecclesiastes 6: 9, NLT)
With a good plan in place you should be able to work toward achieving some future requirements or desires, but not at the expense of current peace of mind.