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I make myself rich by making my wants few. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Updated: Jan 29

If Thoreau's statement is true, is the opposite true as well? Namely, can you make yourself poor by making your wants many? Is that why so many are in debt today?

In several of my blogs, I have given credit to marketing staff who help propel consumers to both virtual and physical stores. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is instilled in us and we somehow believe the sale will not last forever. We must act now. And so, with a quick swipe of the magic plastic card, we ensure that we will have the latest, greatest, whatever it is. However, once that purchase has been made, does it bring much satisfaction, or do we resume a focus on the next conquest? Do we resume the practice of making ourselves feel poor because there are so many things we do not have?

But where on the spectrum do we place peace of mind? How highly do we value knowing we have money in the bank to deal with an unforeseen emergency?

Earlier this year, an early spring day in Middle Tennessee became especially windy. That sure doesn’t sound too spectacular, now does it? However, by the end of the day, we had five trees uprooted in our backyard and one 60-foot pine leaning precariously against another tree threatening to fall on our fence. Was there anything we could have done to prepare for this unexpected emergency? I don’t think so, unless we wanted to have treeless property. The nature of most emergencies is that they are unexpected and not easily prevented. That is one reason to set aside funds for emergencies.

Most emergencies have dire consequences of their own. With the simple example of the trees, we had to contend with removal of trees in addition to replacement. This required a mixture of money, time and effort. Having the money available lessened the other burden of finding skilled workers to do the work and shopping for replacement trees. Emergencies have enough consequences of their own without adding financial turmoil!

So how do I make my wants few? One way might be to keep a journal that shows your top ten wants. Before making impulse purchases, remind yourself of your top ten wants. Does the item you are considering really need to leapfrog all of the items you intentionally selected?

Another way may be to keep your active top ten list for a month and then reflect on the list at the end of the month. Have any of those items lost their luster in your eyes?

Finally, please consider placing an emergency fund on your top ten list. Peace of mind and contentment are part of a rich life. Additionally, ponder the words of Thoreau. Are there ways you can make yourself rich, by decreasing your wants?

"Simplify, simplify. Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influence of the earth. An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." Henry David Thoreau

If you know your finances are unending your best life, please reach out to me and let's see if we can reorder your finances together.

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