Tuesday, June 14, 2005

be thankful for the things you already have

just received this in an email from nathan dungan, of share, save, spend on 'can money buy happiness?' he writes:

While virtually everyone knows the saying, “money can’t buy happiness” it’s amazing how much time, energy, and money is spent trying to convince us otherwise.

From clothing to cars to vacations to homes, billions of dollars are spent every year trying to convince Americans that if we just buy one more thing…then we will truly be happy.

But a significant amount of research that was featured in a TIME magazine cover story on happiness suggests otherwise. In a national TIME poll, people were asked about their major source of happiness. Believe it or not, money didn’t even crack the top 10. In other research, psychologists found no significant relationship between how much money a person earns and whether he or she feels good about life.

Our national debt numbers would suggest we haven’t quite made that connection. In 2004, the average credit card debt per household was a startling $9,000. If you subtract out those who pay off their credit cards every month, the number rises to jaw dropping $17,000 per household.

Frequently I talk with parents who express their discomfort with the debt trend. On a recent trip to California, Jim, a 43 year-old computer analyst, told me how their family has adopted a new slogan “be thankful for the things you already have.” The key word in that sentence – already.

Jim said that he and his wife Catherine instituted the slogan as much for each other as they did the children. “Let’s face it,” he said, “children follow the lead of their parents and Catherine and I decided we could do a much better job modeling the behavior we wanted them to emulate.” The numbers certainly support Jim’s logic. Seventy five percent of children in America say they learn the most about money from their parents.

So the next time you are tempted to buy something to lift your spirits think twice before pulling out your credit card. After all, it probably won’t contribute to your overall happiness, but it will impact the financial habits of your children.
i can't imagine the stress that is generated in a family by $17,000 in unsecured debt. it was fun to have a bit of $ to spend with our tax return. it reminded me of the days of instant gratification when our spending was out of control. we have spent our budget and i'm finding i am missing those trips to home depot and hobby lobby, it's so tempting to start back on that treadmill of 'just this one little thing', or 'wouldn't that just make it perfect?' it's a slippery slope for me. i can become so dis-satisfied so very quickly. gratitude, contentment and simplicity are thing areas i'm nurturing today.

thank you god for what we've been able to accomplish with the tax return. help us save and spend wisely, not impulsively. and most of all help me to be content and thankful for the things i already have.

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