Rich is Relative

Being born into a middle class American family was just lucky. If I ever wanted for anything as a child, I didn't know it. I wasn't spoiled...but was well fed, had your average roof over my head, and got new school clothes every year. My family even took vacations, to places like Disney, but only twice....mostly it was camping.

When I got to college, I realized I was poor in comparison to some of my classmates. Yes school was paid for, but I had to get a job and even then I bounced checks at grocery stores to get cash back. I never went to any place by plane or boat on spring break, and when I graduated I knew I had to get a job or starve.

When I got into the real world making $20K a year I thought I was rich. I learned about things like sushi, fancy cocktails, designer jeans, and the meaning of "trendy"...managing to pull it off because of stores like TJ Maxx and Ross.

When I finally started making a little real money, I realized how poor I had been, and I began enjoying the even finer things in life like designer bags, $100 weekday dinners, Pottery Barn furniture, exotic vacations, and the meaning of "keeping up with the Jones"...which I did.

And then I woke up.

And slowly the rest of the country is, too. Our period of more, bigger, better, and status is slowly coming to and end and only those that have learned to appreciate the simple things in life will survive. In fact, it's almost embarrasing to spend a lot of money...on anything...these days.

Did I lose my pants in the stock market? No. Am I upside down on a house? We sold it in October of 2008 (impeccable timing). Have I lost my job? Still getting up tomorrow morning, although a bit more grateful to be than in other years.

Nothing has changed yet everything has. Call it the recession, and yes it happened and is far from over, but with it is coming a morale correction and getting back to basics.  Not like bread, food and water..those would be necessities. But family, friends, and simple pleasures.

I don't mean to preach or intend to make any kind of judgement. I'm also not a holier than thou evangelist on a soap box. I still have a flat screen LCD and cable, my Volvo SUV, and a boat. But I've learned something, something that I hope a lot of other people have the pleasure to as well.

A flurry of housing circumstances put us in a position where we live well below our means and don't spend a lot of money, purely out of lack of places and things near by to spend it on. We're temporarily living at our lake house, and while some may think "oh that's tough", let me stress that it is more of a wilderness cabin built circa 1965. True we've made it very comfortable, and home. While the goal is to get back to the city, the longer we live here, the happier I am becoming in general.

In the meantime...staying home and cooking dinner is a lot of fun. Planting $50 worth of flowers gives you five months of pleasure. Playing with the dog for 30 minutes is great exercise and makes you smile. Buying t-shirts at Target instead of J. Crew and putting $100 in savings is just plain smart. And ending the day snuggled in bed talking to each other instead of the TV is much more romantic.

And it's easy to do. Simplify.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this.

    Henry David Thoreau stated it perfectly while writing in the peaceful surroundings of Waldon Pond.
    "Simplify, simplify"

  2. living simple so that others may simply live...that's my thing. :) Jenn


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