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Living Below Your Means
A Room With a View

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By jammerh
June 4, 2003

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The other day someone told me he was fed up with retirement and returning to work.

I asked him why. Why would anyone in a high tax bracket want to work for the government - giving them back a large percentage of everything he made? We both know he doesn't need the money.

He said he was 'bored'. I guess can understand that even though I like to think I'm pretty good myself at keeping busy in my own retirement.

It makes me wonder though. I mean what's it all for? We struggle so diligently at times - often under great self-imposed pressures. And for what? A bigger house? A finer car? A fancier boat? Are any of those things worth risking your health, or peace of mind?

I once put this question to a friend who is a retired professor and fellow stock market enthusiast. After a particularly interesting discussion of our favorite companies, and efforts to understand the world of investing, I threw up my hands and confessed that I sometimes wondered why we all struggled so hard at times to get ahead, by making even more money.

After all, we all just seem to end up in a nursing home in the end. My friend looked around a bit and said in all sincerity,

"Maybe, if you have some money, they give you a room with a view..."

Saving, and sacrificing are worthwhile endeavors. The challenge of cutting where we're able, can be a worthwhile thing in itself. You not only put more money in your bank account, but the discipline forces you to use resources sensibly. It requires you think creatively.

How far a person takes this line of thinking is a matter of personal lifestyle choice. You decide how far you want to take it. Some, like myself, will go to the extreme because they know it is the only way they can build enough momentum to keep themselves enthusiastic about the cause.

Others may shy on the side of slower, more incremental gains, confident that this approach too, will get them closer to their goals over time. Either way, try to keep in mind that despite any setbacks the challenge remains.

A runner may exercise not so much for the idea of getting to a certain place, but rather because she believes the effort is good for her body and her health. Similarly, the effort of saving and sacrifice makes us healthier in mind and spirit - even when we don't immediately achieve our goals.

The struggle keeps you sharp. It makes you a better, stronger person.

If you meet with obstacles, do not despair. Setbacks are a normal occurrence in life. Pick yourself up; dust yourself off, and get back in the race.

The spoils usually go to the disciplined, the determined, and the persistent. Real reward in life comes from knowing you did the best under the circumstances, with what you had.

Who knows, someday when you're old and crotchety, you too may rate a room with a view.


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