Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Looking at Things from a Different Perscpective

(Image from Living in a 3rd World Country, aka the United States)

Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged, especially when finances are tight or unexpected expenses come and make a dent into your savings. 

As I was reading one of my favorite finance books, The Average Family's Guide to Financial Freedom, they gave an example from Robert Heilbroner, from his book The Great Ascent, that lists the things that most American families would have to give up to live the lifestyle of a typical family in many other countries.  It is a good reminder on those days when you feel like finances are tight and you are tired of the grind.

"We begin by invading the house of our imaginary American family to strip it of its furniture.  Everything goes:  beds, chairs, tables, television, lamps.  We will leave the family a few old blankets, a kitchen table, a wooden chair.  Along with the bureaus go the clothes.  Each member of the family may keep in his "wardrobe" his oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse.  We will permit a pair of shoes for the head of the family, but none for the wife or children.  We move to the kitchen.  The appliances have already been taken out so we turn to the cupboards...The box of matches may stay, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt.  A few moldy potatoes, already in the garbage can, must be hastily rescued for they will  provide much of tonight's meal.  We will leave a handful of onions, and a dish or dried beans.  All the rest we take away:  the meat, the fresh vegetables, the canned goods, the crackers, the candy.  Now we have stripp[ed the house:  The bathroom has been dismantled, the running water shut off, the electric wires taken out.  Next we take away the house.  The family can move to the tool shed." 

I hope that having the chance to read this has helped you to see just how blessed all of us are, even with the challenges we face.  Maybe we can't afford to go out to eat very often if at all, but we probably can afford a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream to splurge on here and there.  Maybe you need to buy marked down meat, but at least you get a chance to eat meat if you choose.  Maybe you need to spend extra time searching through the sales to get bargains, but at least you have choices about what to eat.  Next time you turn on your water or turn on your lights, remember how fortunate we have to have these luxuries. 

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