You do not have to have a large income to live well. That is, unless your definition of living well is buying all the latest gadgets and eating “high on the hog.”
Living well does not require a McMansion with a half dozen bedrooms and multiple showers. It does not require having two cars in your garage, each of which cost more than a modest home. It does not require T-bone steak and crab legs at every meal.
You can only use one shower at a time. A 3-year-old Ford will get you there just as comfortably as a new BMW. A modest TV will show you that great catch in the end zone just as well as that giant liquid crystal set. You can have a very nutritious diet on a fraction of what those T-bones cost you.
I am a book nut. I collect and read books by the dozen. I have a house and garage full. But I paid full price for only a few of them. I find that I enjoy the murder mystery that I picked up at a garage sale for one dollar just as much as the new one that cost $25 or more. I live in the small house that I helped my father build 50 years ago. My income would be considered below the poverty level anywhere in the U.S.A. But I am happy with my life.
There are many advantages to the modest lifestyle. You do not have to work long hours to afford it. Instead you can spend quality time with your family, your neighbors and your church. You do not have to worry about your impact on the environment. A modest home uses far less energy than the McMansions. You do not have to concern yourself with whether the neighbor down the street has more than you do. In fact, if he is enslaved by his possessions, you can feel sorry for him.
I am a product of rural Madison County. That is a good way to learn to appreciate the lesser things in life. It was normal for us to have few resources. It taught us to take what we have and make a good life with it. We learn to build and repair our own furniture. We learn to make full use of the clothes we had and only replace things when they wear out. We learn to make tasty nutritious meals out of whatever foods we happen to have in the pantry.
Last week, I went to my kitchen to see what I could find for a meal. In the freezer I found a pound of catfish nuggets and a pound of cut okra. In the storage bin I found potatoes and onions, and in the upper shelf of the pantry I found a collection of canned vegetables that I had purchased a few weeks ago when the store had a sale.
I diced up the catfish nuggets and tossed them into a big stew pot. I opened the pack of okra and tossed that in. I diced up three potatoes and a big onion. I filled the pot about half full of water and put it on the stove at medium heat. After a couple of hours, the potatoes, onions, okra and catfish were tender. So a poured in two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of cut corn, one of butter beans, green beans and sweet peas. A pod of finely diced cayenne pepper and some seasoned salt gave it flavor. After it all cooked together, I had 15 man-sized servings of catfish gumbo that cost me less than fifty cents a serving.
You can live a productive, entertaining and comfortable lifestyle on a limited budget. I recommend it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/
01/19/09 at 11:40 AM
You are exactly right. A lot of times, we use the term "need" when the term "want" actually applies. Then, we expect the government to bail us out or to provide our true needs. This seems to be what "The American Way" has become.
People might be surprised how tasty and tender a two dollar per pound chunk of meat is after it sits in the slow cooker all day.
This is the kind of common sense and intelligence we need in county govt. If our commissioners practiced this wisdom, we wouldn't have taxes so high that people are losing family farms. Frank Gillespie for Commissioner!
I agree with you 100%, Mr Gilispie would make a fine commisioner for our county. The man can't be purchased by others. I have read his comments for years, I think he very plain spoken and open and honest.