Sunday, September 03, 2006
Sunday Scribblings: Fortune Cookie
Wouldn’t it be great to open a fortune cookie and have the meaning of life answered with one simple phrase? Seems like everyone is looking for that one thing that will make their lives better, their wallets fatter, their waistlines slimmer—and I’m no exception. None of us are truly happy with what we have, always wanting more when everything we need is right in front of us.
Here’s the phrase I consider my fortune cookie fortune: Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.
This simple phrase has given me more fortune than any message in a cookie ever could. What does it mean? Exactly the opposite of what ad agencies tell us in commercials and magazines: don’t be like everyone else, delay gratification, live on less money than you make. “Normal” in this country means being up to your eyeballs in stuff and debt. So I’m choosing to be “abnormal” by saving, investing for the future, and not buying things I can’t afford.
Being a good steward of my money is a topic dear to my heart. Heck, I could have written about “the debt monster” in last week’s Sunday Scribblings. But after paying off a ton of consumer debt earlier this year, I have a certain kind of freedom I’ve never had before. I don’t have internal conversations like: if I buy a $7 lunch, will that throw me into reserve credit? Or, should I take $100 and pay on 10 bills or pay one bill with $100?
Being debt free translates into making difficult choices now to succeed in the long run. It’s about turning down dinners out so I can put that money into a rainy day fund. It’s about driving a junky car past its prime so I don’t carry a car payment. It’s about having garage sales, taking freelance jobs, and cutting the cable subscription so I can pay cash to attend the Dodge Poetry Festival in a few weeks. It’s not about missing out—it’s about getting the most out of what you’ve been given. No more. No less.
The image I chose sums up exactly what I’ve been trying to say. I don’t need to open this cookie now. I’m putting it off so I can one day open it in my paid-for house with our newly renovated kitchen (paid for in cash), celebrating my good fortune with the people I love most.