Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Success and Value

My husband and I attended a lecture over weekend about planning for the future. Most of the people in attendence were students and spouses of students. The wives are generally trying to balance either having a career or children and a spouse in school. The general purpose of the lecture was to give advice on financial planning for the future. What do you do when you get out of school and have an income? Is it imporant to buy life insurance and why? How much should your first house cost? I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and found it useful. Planning for the future is something my husband and I talk about regularly.

Growing up, my father always used to say, "The more you save now, the more you'll have later." And he's right. We are trying to save what we can and spend wisely. But, something the lecturer said really stuck with me. He said something like, "Some people are defined by their money and some people define their money."

I met this guy once who drove an old beat up Mercedes. He was retired and drove his car in town every day to pick up his mail at the post office. His neighbors all drove very latest and greatest in luxury vehicles. He said if you have to drive the nicest car in town you need people to know if you have money, you don't have as much as you think you do. If you have money and don't really care if anyone knows, then it doesn't matter what you drive and you're richer than the rest. My guess is he wasn't speaking of 'richer' as a manner of material wealth, but more of the quality of life.

My parents weren't rich or poor, but I learned the 'value' of money. I have learned the difference between having nice things because I like them and having nice things because it makes me feel like a better person than those who don't have nice things. I have learned the importance of saving and have experienced my fair share of 'rainy days' in which that savings literally 'saved' me.

Albert Einstein once said,“Try to become not a man of success, but a man of value.” I grew up in a nice town and went to a nice school. Most of my friends drove nice cars. But it wasn't enough to drive a nice car. They had to shop at the right stores, hang out in right places, and carry the right handbag just so everyone knew they had money. But what facinated me about it all is that they didn't have any money. Their parents had money. While I was driving around in an blue Dodge Caravan with wood grain on the side, my friends were driving their brand new Mustangs and Explorers. But please, don't feel sorry for me; at least I had a car. And - I have those years of character development to thank for the current value and condition of my life.


SterneBrau said...

I was one of the "lucky" kids in high school to drive what was back then a pretty nice car. My parents didn't pay for it. It was an Acura Legend, and I worked my rear off to afford it and afford the gas that I put into it. A job at McDonald's isn't the most glamourous job in the world, but I learned a lot from it, and it allowed me to afford my car. I soon discovered that I was working only to maintain this image as "the guy with the Acura".

That image is long since gone from my life, but I feel that it was a learning experience on how I do not want to live my life. Since that time I've been through several different cars and have lived in residences from luxury apartments to converted garages. My current vehicle is an old, beat up Toyota truck... I wouldn't trade for the world. It's not that I don't have the so-called "riches" to afford a new vehicle. I choose to drive my truck because, well, I love my truck. It makes me happy, and I feel richer knowing that every time I get into my truck I'm going to be happy with my decision.

I'll end this with a quote from "Fight Club":

"The things you own end up owning you".

Andrea Keck said...

Justin and I always talk about our finances, and every day I think about how blessed we are for what we have even though it might not be enough. I just can't wait for Justin to graduate so we don't have to have any loans and we can just be comfortable. I liked all the quotes you wrote about too. You're the best and I miss seeing you more!

amynewby said...

I agree, it was a great evening! It's soo nice to get advice from people you trust and know what they're talking about.

ProudMamaBlogga said...

I think you're really good at this. It's all relative, isn't it? I especially appreciate the Einstein quote. Where did you find it?