You know, I try to not be a judgmental person. I really do! Who am I to judge what anyone else does, or how other people want to live their life? But, even though I try very hard not to judge people, I can’t help observing them. I mean, really… is it possible to go through life and not even notice what other people are doing?
Sometimes, I see someone driving their new, amazing car and I think “Golly Gee Willikers, I’d LOVE to own a car like that…” Other times, it’s someone’s huge house that catches my eye. Yesterday, I was talking to a guy who owns his own business and has a lot of free time for golf and vacations, and I found myself a little jealous. He’s got the big house, the big lifestyle. That would be awesome, right?
Well, I don’t know… let’s analyze this for a minute.
Ok, quick side note here because I realize not everyone fits into a box. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define two groups: Group A is the lifestyle lived on credit. Group B is the lifestyle lived without the need for credit (or at least working toward that). Of course, there are always exceptions to the examples used below so I’d like to make a quick mention of a couple of them.
Exception 1: Let’s say there’s a woman who has a very high income and she lives a very big lifestyle. However, she pays for everything with cash. It LOOKS like she’s a Group A person, but in reality she is a hybrid.
Exception 2: What about the guy who lives a very simple lifestyle, has almost nothing, but what he has he bought on credit. The “pay by the week” tv, the furniture…everything is on credit.
The point is that you can’t always tell by someone’s lifestyle whether they’re in Group A or Group B. It’s not necessarily what they have, but how they pay for it. But another point that needs to be made: who cares? People are going to live how they want to live, so you just have to do the best you can do! 🙂
(Ok, side note over.) Most times, a big lifestyle is largely paid for with credit. Meaning, you don’t own anything. It’s all financed in some way, so there are monthly payments that have to be made on every big ticket item. That means there are a lot of bills, which means more stress, which means you HAVE to make enough money to pay them, which means if you lose your job or your business takes a hit, you’re REALLY up a creek (and not in a good way!).
A simple lifestyle (yes, this actually is an option) means that you pay cash for the things you want, and typically you don’t have a lot of the fancier things (cars, houses) that “the other group” has. It means you have very few bills, if any, and a lot of extra cash (referred to as “margin”). If you lose your job, or your business takes a hit, you shrug your shoulders and go find another job or do something different in your business. Not a big stressor. Basically, you live far below your means.
I realize it sounds like I lean toward simplicity. That’s probably because I do. But, it doesn’t mean I think any less of the group that wants to “live big” either. There are pros and cons to both. Maybe Group A gets to take killer vacations, drive awesome cars, eat at super nice restaurants, etc. That would be pretty sweet, eh? Then again, Group B probably has more peace and less stress. Every person gets to make their own choices in life, and that’s the beauty of how this life works.
Now, don’t think just because I lean toward simplicity, that we sit around a candle at night and play “Rock, paper, scissors”, wearing homemade pajamas cut out of gunny sacks. Simple doesn’t have to mean boring, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have anything. We have plenty of “stuff”, we just don’t owe anyone for it. When we wanted a set of dirt bikes to ride in the summer, we paid cash for them. When we decided we needed a new mower because our other one kept breaking down, we paid cash for it. We have decent cars and a house we built on our own with the help of family (on 6.5 acres). We feel like we live a pretty nice lifestyle, and it’s one without the stress of job loss and a bunch of bills.
Recently, there was a big layoff at my job, and it was very clear that people were completely freaked out about it. It was interesting for me to observe the difference between what they were feeling and what I was feeling. I didn’t WANT to lose my job because it’s a really good gig. But I wasn’t worried about it either. I figured, worst case scenario, I could go get a job at O’Reilly’s slinging spark plug wires and oil filters and pay my bills. That’s a nice feeling! Contrast that with the people I spoke to, literally crying on the phone with me, worried about how they were going to make it. That’s really sad.
I think it just all comes down to how you decide to live your life. Do you want your life to be full of “stuff” bought with credit? Toys, cars, boats, TV’s, etc? Or would you rather live simply, with whatever “stuff” you have being bought with cash? No judgment here… however you decide is fine. But here’s the thing:
You need to decide ON PURPOSE.
Don’t let society choose for you. Don’t live your life in “default” mode. Don’t make the false assumption that “It has to be this way…what choice do I have?” We have the choices. We can live our life on our own terms.
I began this blog based on that very premise. Tami and I want to live our life on our own terms, on Laymon’s terms. Not what society tells us we have to do. All I want from this article is to maybe open one persons eyes so they realize that life is all about choices.
So, here’s your action item: Analyze your life. Take a very unbiased look at the decisions you’ve made until now. Notice how you’ve done things up to this point, and think about whether that’s what you meant to do or if those decisions were made on auto-pilot under pressure from society. Decide how you really want to live your life, and adjust from here.
Or don’t. 🙂 It’s your life.