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.