A recent post comment got me to thinking about how so many people today are truly “owned and consumed by their possessions”, as recently stated by an observant M.S.B. Reader. This ‘condition’ is arguably one of the core root causes attributing to the high stress of modern day life. Don’t get me wrong. Who wouldn’t like to have more than just the necessities of life, or bigger and better versions of those same necessities. Who wouldn’t enjoy having nicer ‘toys’ to play with. In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the possession of such things in my opinion, provided that you are not owned or consumed by them!
Here’s what I mean…
A possession that owns you may mean that you owe someone or some institution to have possession of that possession. You have it, but don’t own it, and are under contract to pay for it under the agreed terms. Therefore, the possession really owns you.
You are consumed by a possession or possessions when it or they expends you, or uses you up. How? By either the debt that you owe for it or them, or by the emotion, ‘greed’, – the ‘keep up with the Joneses’ syndrome.
For whatever reason, probably my upbringing, I have never been overcome with the emotion of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, or the mentality of leveraging nearly everything I earn so that I can ‘appear’ to own possessions that are beyond my means. As I have lived life, I have been astounded at the acceptable notion of many that are younger than me, that it is OK and normal to leverage what they earn to purchase possessions that are way beyond their means.
Some may argue with me that this is a ‘bad thing’, since they are perfectly capable of paying their debt each month when the bills come… however they are missing a few extremely logical and important points. What are they sacrificing for having these possessions now (rather than later – or at all), and what if their ability to earn the required sum to pay the bills is taken away from them.
The point is, when you owe, you are a slave, even though you may not feel like it right now. I just heard a news report today that many Americans will now have to ‘work’ into their 80’s before they can retire! Are you kidding me?? What kind of retirement is that???
It used to be that people would live within their means, meaning they would not borrow more than what they knew they could pay off in a reasonable time. Better yet, save the money, forgo the instant gratification of having it now, and pay cash for it later. No debt, and therefore not a slave to the system.
When borrowing money, the interest you pay on that money, over time, will amount to an extraordinary sum… a sum which could have been in your pocket instead.
Don’t fall victim to feeling like you have to keep up with your friends or neighbors who have nice things in their possession. Just know that most of them really don’t own them, and are sealing their fate by burdening themselves with excessive debt and a long life of slavery.
Instead, just smile, and know inside yourself that you will likely build real net worth by simply remaining frugal and happy with the things that you can afford. Your life free of debt will be truly rewarding, and you will have a reasonable chance of retiring at a reasonable age.
…just a thought
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