Post of the Day
August 7, 2000
Living Below Your Means
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The late Tom Macahill was possibly one of the best writers on automobiles ever. He once said that he could double or triple the miles per gallon but no one would drive that way. It involved removing the seats, trunk lid or any removable metal, and accelerating at a snail's pace. Plus no hard braking. Plus no more than a quart in the gas tank. Plus rock-hard tires. And so on. Totally impracticable even though it achieved absolutely fantastic mileage.
Same with LBYM. Something is seriously wrong when you can't factor in having an ice-cream sundae. Or, if tennis is your racket (pun intended) that you can't have the equipment necessary. Mine is salmon fishing. I live in the Pacific Northwest and I have all the downrigger rods, knuckle-buster reels, and I have fished premier spots including Campbell River, Rivers Inlet, and the Kenai in Alaska. Salmon fishing is my indulgence � and I don't skimp on it. But isn't that why we are LBYM? So there are certain activities in which we don't skimp?
My chuckle for today was the poster saying that he plans to retire at 32. To do what? What he wants to do? And what would that be? To do things that he denied himself? I live in a community that has many retired people and many are bored to tears in the middle of one of the most scenic spots you could imagine -- these people are not, repeat not, happy. Sure, everything is paid for and they have incomes to cover expenses yet their desires for doing something that brings enjoyment have been dulled by years of scrimping at the expense of enjoyment. There are others, in their 70's who learned that being LBYM didn't mean becoming ascetic monks. These are the happier ones.
Agreed, when you're inundated by debt, the only way is to cut back on expenditures and LBYM Real Tight. But that's recovery and it's not easy and you have to cut back on almost everything until you're in the green. Once you're in the green the objective is to enjoy yourself. Really. You've so managed your finances that you can do things you couldn't before. What people who are living beyond their means have trouble understanding is that you can afford the pleasure that they can't. What they don't realize is that you've engineered your pleasures.
One of my neighbors, in her 80s, has a garden to die for. She and her husband spend a lot on that garden of masses of roses, rhododendron bushes, and so on. To her, her garden is life itself. I know they're on a fixed income and that they pinch their pennies, yet for her to cut back on her garden would be to give up life. Yours may be different yet the result is that you can.
My point? LBYM is stages with the eventual result is that you can do what breathes life into yourself. My neighbor, roses; mine, fishing. I have gone through the stages of LBYM and I can look across the bay from my balcony knowing that, in essence, I gave up nothing but sleepless nights.
If there was ever a reason for LBYM, it's in realizing that before you were constrained and now you're not. I can't think of a better reason, can you?
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