I Have Had Enough

Don’t be alarmed. I’m not quitting the blog, or my job, or going off on a wild rant. I’ve simply had enough, and I am so thankful. Today in a moment of clarity it occurred to me that so much of our lives are driven by this one single word – enough. Few of us ever experience it, despite how rich or poor our socioeconomic class defines us.

The word “enough” is powerful. Ignoring the Webster’s definition for a moment, my own interpretation of the word in the language of frugal is that
“enough” is experienced when one reaches a sufficiency. Sure, we could have more, but we do not need more. We may want more, but we do not need more. We simply have enough.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t remember what enough feels like. When we were kids we needed to learn, and often be reminded of, what enough really meant. For example, my four year-old son could eat a three-pound bag of M&Ms if left entirely up to him. As he gets older he’ll learn that the over-indulgence in sugar and chocolate will likely leave him sick. He will reach a point of balance where he limits himself to a certain number of candies to satisfy his craving, but not so many that it makes him sick.

As we grow older our tolerance increases, our stomachs expand a little, and we can once again gorge ourselves beyond the state of enough. But now our childhood, sugar-induced nausea is replaced by things like credit card debt, a mortgage we can barely afford, a car that cost more than half our annual income, and 60-hour workweeks to pay for it all.

Imagine how much simpler our lives could be if we could go back to that point at eight years-old when we rolled down that bag of M&Ms after a couple handfuls. That point when we recognized enough and allowed our innate self-control to kick in.

I’ve tried to put these ideas into practice lately by reminding myself when I’ve had enough. From food, to material items, to money, reminding myself when I’ve reached enough has served me well. Here are a few examples.

I Have Enough

I earn enough money. Who wouldn’t like to earn a higher salary? Who wouldn’t like to earn as much as their boss? I know it sounds strange to hear someone say they earn enough, but I do. I’m not volunteering to stop earning more money, but I do recognize my basic needs and a few wants are met thanks to my adequate income.

My car is good enough. I currently drive a 19 year-old van. The radio doesn’t work, the heat and air rarely works, the gas mileage is terrible, and it has zero sex appeal. I don’t care – I love it! I have no car payment, my insurance and tag costs are negligible, and save the occasional repair it reliably gets me back and forth on my short commute to work. I could go out and finance a brand new truck, but my current vehicle is good enough.

I have had enough to eat. I’m a big guy. I’ve always been a big guy, and even in my younger days I had to stay active to make up for my love of good food. Now that I’m older, and more sedentary, those trips to the stove for seconds take more of a toll. Instead of toying with every diet under the sun (which I’ve tried to no avail at some point), I’m simply using the word enough to drive my eating habits. Mid-meal I stop to ask myself, “Have you had enough?” If I have, I stop eating.  Simple as that. Hopefully, the combination of my “enough diet” and increased activity will help me get back to fighting weight.

My house is big enough. The other day I sort of lamented about the configuration of our current home and its lack of office space. I found a frugal solution, and set up shop in our laundry/utility room. I’m also in the process of adding some gym equipment to our garage so I can get in a workout at home. Would I like a bigger house with a dedicated office, a bigger backyard, a playroom for my kids, and a workshop for myself? Sure, but my current house is big enough, and provides shelter for my family.

So the next time you find yourself crawling the mall for a new jacket, ask yourself if your current one is good enough. When you feel yourself coming down with car fever, avoid the new car lot and look at your current vehicle in a new light. Does it meet your needs? Is it paid for (or close to being paid for)? Do you remember what it is like to have a car payment? Do you really want to write that car payment check for the next 60 months? I don’t know about you, but like I said, I have had enough.

Comments

  1. Great post! One thing I notice with our society is that no matter how much someone has, it’s never enough. Not in all cases, but in many. I’ve been learning the art of ‘enough’ by starting Weight Watchers. I’m not terribly overweight, about 20 lbs. But I am learning that my eating habits were not healthy, in many ways. I can see that carrying over to my finances, and my life in general. Once I get something, I want more. It’s something I’ve really been working on.

  2. I think it is important to realize when you have “enough”. My only problem is that I can’t seem to get enough books!

  3. I’m with you. We are in the midst of upgrading to a bigger house; I’m still not sure it’s a good idea. But at least you have a laundry ROOM to double as an office. We sort of have a laundry hole-in-the-wall. :)

  4. Thanks for the link! And this is so weird because I’m writing something eerily similar today.

    More and more of us need to realize that yes, we have enough, and it’s OK. It’s OK to say you earn “enough.”

    Amen!

  5. I don’t have enough. It’s not even close. I want to have more money. I want to have more stuff. I want to do more. I want to see more. I want to learn more. I want to touch more people.

    I don’t see the divide as being between feeling that you have enough and feeling that you do not have enough. I see it as being between questing after the right sort of thing and questing after the wrong sort of thing. Marketing encourages us to quest after junk — junk jobs, junk activities, junk relationships, junk possessions, junk hopes, junk dreams.

    I have enough junk. But I don’t have enough of the good stuff. I’m always trying to cut back on the junk and thereby to open up possibilities to grab hold of more of the good stuff.

    Rob

  6. great post! sometimes I feel like the only person I know who has enough. Several years ago I went from an underpaid private sector job to a government job with more than enough pay and great benefits. At that point in my life I had enough and have been really content ever since. However you would not believe the whining and moaning that goes on in my workplace. In the post 9/11 recession, and the current recession, when millions are losing their jobs, my coworkers are complaining because their annual cost of living increases are too small. No joke. They should be ecstatic to still have a job at all.

    And I haven’t even mentioned my friends and relatives whose houses are too small, cars are too old, etc etc.

  7. I feel the same about enough. I have just down graded to an 18 year old car, because of changing family circumstances, it perfectly meets our needs. In its day my 18 year old car was top of the range, but has so many features missing that are almost standard on more contemporary vehicles. All these extras have to be paid for by someone, which means we are all working hardier and longer for all the extra features, which give marginal extra satisfaction. There definately comes a time when the extras are recognised as being nice, bit the value is marginal.

  8. Great post FD. I agree.

    It is in our nature to want more and to better ourselves but there is a difference between “want” and “need”. We have a t.v. that is fine. Do I “want” another one that is a huge flat screen? Absolutely. Do I “need” one? No, the one I have works fine.

  9. “Stuff” all decays and is eventually useless. People that measure their self-worth by how much stuff they have eventually realize that they’re going down the wrong road, because accumulating more stuff doesn’t really change them, and they know that in their heart. Then they become very sad.

    Your post is right on.

    I found the writing of Eckhart Tolle to help me understand why stuff and things and experiences all eventually began to ring hollow to me. I recommend his books, especially Power of Now and then New Earth. Audiobook is best, so you can hear nuance.

  10. I think this is a great perspective!

    I tried to explain to a former coworker why I didn’t feel the need to brown-nose and try to get promoted because I already HAD enough money and self-worth in my current position. His argument: “But you could make more money!” My answer: “So? I make enough now.”

    Like talking to a brick wall…

  11. Thank you for this post – it’s definitely a “want” vs “need” in our society. It’s nice to be reminded of the difference.

  12. Great post . . . I currently have enough. I live and eat just fine on my weekly paycheck. My ‘wants’ come from making sure that I have ‘enough’ for when I retire, and that is where I do NOT have enough. So, that’s my foucs. My other focus is ‘downsizing’ . . . I have a lot of clutter. Not bad clutter, just stuff I dont really use any more. So my focus for the next few years is to slowly unclutter the house of items I don’t need or want anymore.

    Excellent though provoking article, though . . . thanks!

  13. Enough. Hmmmm.

    Good article with plenty to think about in terms of one’s own life and beyond. What, indeed, is “enough”? How does the individual define it? Although it may include material things, it really goes way beyond the basics. (Plenty of folks have the basics and then some and still don’t feel they have “enough.” Cause enough is NOT stuff.)

    It’s good to know that many feel they “have enough.” I think perhaps for some their definitions may be quite static or set. (I enjoyed the comment of the poster who stated that they do not have enough. In terms of connections, experiences, etc. Enough of the good stuff. That’s honest.)

    We know people who are equally satisfied with their status quo as some of the posters here. However, we know plenty of people who are struggling and have struggled for years. Good, honest, hardworking and highly underpaid and under-appreciated people. Good citizens, parents and friends. People who can barely hold it together–even before this financial “crisis”.

    Their thoughts don’t focus on “enough” because they are working hard to just not drown. (We’re not talking about people with huge debt by the way. The stereotype of cash-challenged folks getting into huge credit card debt, is often just that. Everyone I know with credit card debt has big-time job, made huge money for years…and gotten into debt.)

    But I think for most people, the “enough” has to be about more than the basics. It is about the people and relationships in our lives. About having enough energy and time to enjoy ourselves. And not just recover from the horrors of what many go through each day to “earn a living.”

    For me, I’ve had enough: Of miserable working conditions; abusive bosses; lazy co-workers; companies that mistreat and misuse their most loyal and productive employees and outright steal from them and stockholders by mismanaging the companies and putting them into bankruptcy; of greedy execs who give themselves raises while running companies into the ground and throwing workers into the street with no pensions, healthcare, etc.; a government that does not reflect the interests of the people and that is guilty of wasting our taxes; of people who steal from others; of people who have no interest in using their energy to help others and of people who think that poor people are poor because they are lazy and want to be.

    Oh, yeah. I’ve had enough. Of governmental, corporate and societal greed and avarice and indifference. To a general lack of social responsibility in our culture.

  14. I remember reading a while back that when people are asked how much more will make them happy, it’s always just a tad bit more than they have – a slightly larger home, a slightly higher income, a slighter nicer car. It seems as people are never satisfied and always want just a little bit more. And when they reach that level, they want just a little bit more and so it goes. It is hard for most people to feel happy with what they have.

  15. Great post, one of your better ones lately! The concept of having enough and being satisfied with what we already have is a theme I try to highlight at my website.

    From selling off my DVD collection to figuring out how many hours I need to work in order to pay for a car that takes me to work, having enough and realizing it is something that takes time and a person almost needs to have an awakening to reach that point.

    More posts like this! :)

  16. FD- this really had to be one of your best posts ever!

    I read this quote recently- i don’t know where- but it seemed to apply to your idea.

    “If the glass is full- STOP POURING.”

    Satisfaction is a jewel to be treasured.
    Thank you for always providing something interesting to think about. I love your writing!

  17. Sometimes we haven’t seen the other side of the tracks for a while so we start to think that what we have isn’t good enough. I’ll just say that a recent life experience showed me what it is like to not have two incomes and a beautiful 1800 sq. ft. home in a quiet neighborhood with friends as neighbors. This experience gave me perspective and makes me realize that I should be happier with what I have!

  18. Maybe it’s a stage people reach later in life? I know I only hit it after 50 :) I have enough. I feel happy and content. There is enough money to more than cover my needs as well as most of my wants. There is time now for pleasure and family and garden and outdoore life. There is that feeling of contentment.

    A year and a half ago I scaled back from working a 40 hour week to 30-32 hours (4 days, not 5) so I could take the time off and enjoy life/living more. (I still want that company paid health insurance so have to work 30 hrs) I could take the extra day off because I ‘have enough’ money ($18,000/yr gross income) to make life more than comfortable and still contribute to savings and retirement funds.

    People say, why did you give up that day when you could be taking home so much more money? And I say, but why? Time off is worth more than the money – because my needs are few and my wants small, and because I have ‘enough’… :)

    Life is good when one is ‘content’ with ‘enough’. :)

    Good post – and Glad you have ‘arrived!’

  19. Well said!!

    I have been fighting the consumerism urges that have been built in from birth as well these days. I want to find a reason to buy a new car or house but I just can’t justify it.

    It’s hard to overcome though. . .

  20. I read this post while I was eating lunch and LMAO. This morning I signed over the title to our 2nd car because my wife and I decided one car is enough. I take the train to work and I walk to the station. Often times, more than 2 weeks goes by between uses. This is a luxury we don’t need — especially considering car payments and insurance. One car is enough.

    Thanks for the post!

    Rob

  21. Excellent post! So often, people do lose sight of just how much they have in the never-ending fervor for “more.”

    Like you, I’ve been trying to be more mindful of “enough.” Our home is very modest-sized and is feeling more cramped now that we are three, but it’s still more than adequate. More importantly, it’s paid for! So unlike all of the money that some of our friends pump into mortgage payments on their McMansions, we’re free to apply a good chunk of our money – as time and desires permit – to improving our home. Many of our friends are stretched so thinly by their monthly house payments, that they can’t even afford a bucket or two of paint. We’ve revamped nearly every room in our little house (a.k.a. the 2Dolphins Resort & Spa) so it feels fresh and is distinctively ours.

    Likewise, our cars are not as cushy, flashy, or feature-laden as many of our friends’ rides, but both of them are paid for, get great gas mileage, and serve us more than adequately. They’re enough for now.

    It’s amazing how consumerism has actually become a recreation for many people. And honestly, I find myself getting pulled into that trap at times.

    There’s concept called Miswanting that really comes into play here – especially in the more affluent countries like America. And not to get too deep, but the Dalai Lama has some interesting writings on this topic as well.

  22. Awesome post! I try to remind myself that I have all I need, but I find myself subject to wants of all sorts… Sadly. I do need to re-focus on what is important – My car and my racing. Clothes have become too big of an expense again, and I’m ready to either give it up or save up to buy quality, classic designer pieces. (Because $50 every paycheck just isn’t gonna cut it anymore.)

    Instead, I’m going to focus on building up my car art collection… Which is non-existent right now, but what I’ve wanted to do for some time. Eventually I’d like to have a garage of my own, and I would love to decorate it with all sorts of automotive and racing nostalgia. Besides, until then, I have a ton of wall-space that could use some sprucing up!

    Then again, I don’t feel like I have “enough” much of the time. Maybe it’s my age and that I don’t make much and have student loan debt that’s still growing? Not sure. All I know is I don’t want to be stuck paying for a life (let alone living one!) that I’m not satisfied with.

    I might need to write my own post on this topic… I know I did a while back, but it’s time to re-evaluate. :)

  23. Clearer words have rarely been spoken. All too often we are driven by consumerism when we don’t need to be.

    This was a great post!

  24. Excellent advice!! While we all Want more, do we really need it? I find myself saying that frequently to myself now, do I REALLY need this or is what I have good ENOUGH?!! It usually is!!
    Onna

  25. Enough! Yes I have enough. Yes I have things I want, but I do not need.
    I have one coat, one sweater, but that’s all you can wear at a time anyways, so it’s enough.
    We have one car, but that’s enough. It makes us plan as a family when and where we are going places together after Dad comes home from work.
    More families should think this way.
    Great article.

  26. I have noticed that as I am aging (58), I am realizing just how much is too much! I now have a bigger house, which I can’t keep as clean as I would like … and the DH can’t keep up to the 3 acres of grass cut … its all too much!
    We don’t buy clothes like we used to, last year’s coat is now on year 5! and I don’t miss having a new one, ours are still warm and don’t show wear. (Im sure they’ll be back in still one day! lol)
    We buy clothes that we need, not that we want. I went out an got a new blouse last week, first one in 3 years! I notice bras, socks and underwear don’t hold quite as well …
    We just had too many clothes that never got worn or were hardly ever worn or really were so worn they even bypassed the rag bag on the way to the garbage!
    Shoes we still buy every 1-2 years for the sake of foot health and support.
    We each have a vehicle. DH is a newer model 2000 (new for us) he has a 45 minute commute to the city every day for work. Me, I have an old 1980 junker that suits me just fine for the trips into the local town (only 15 minute drive). No bus service in the country!
    I look around our home and cringle, there is so much “STUFF”. I figure it will take me 2 years to sort, clean and get rid of it all! and Im determined Im going to. I have disposed of so much stuff and it still looks like heck in here! Cluttered, tight, and Im tired of looking for things that I know I have. What a waste of life!
    A lot has been and will be donated to the poor and to those who want more STUFF … fools! lol

  27. It’s great that you can look at life that way sir. It’s a view we all (myself included) could benefit from.

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