When you learn to take wealth in proportion, it can change your whole outlook on money. Henry David Thoreau says it best:
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Although I consider myself an extremely wealthy woman, by society’s standards, I ‘don’t have a pot to pee in, nor a window to throw it out of’.
Sorry for the crassness, but that is the way we are viewed quite often. If, in fact, we are talking cold hard cash, then those who look down their noses at us are probably right. But to use a familiar cliché, they are guilty of judging a book by its cover.
How to Live with Proportions
To live a frugal life and be as sustainable as possible, you look at wealth in proportion. Think of a set of scales that are balanced.
On one side, you may have to give up quite a bit of the ‘new and improved’ versions of material possessions. To have all of them, there is a frenetic quality to life – always working harder, longer hours to make enough money to have them.
But to balance out a lack of material possessions, you gain more than you give up. The latest technology may not be in your pocket, but your garden is overflowing with fresh food. You spend more time enjoying life, rather than accumulating more stuff.
Wealth in Frugality
The three R’s (reuse, repurpose, recycle) are your mantra, with the first two being dominant. Around here, we apply these three so much, there isn’t enough left over to send to the recycling plant.
It isn’t much a matter of being ‘green’, but a matter of having enough money left over at the end of the month to keep the lights on and the animals fed. So we use things until they no longer work for their intended purpose.
If there is enough left over, we repurpose what remains until there is so little left it is tossed in the compost pile. Which in turn, feeds our vegetable gardens, which fills our pantries and our bellies!
Being frugal also means to think twice about what you purchase. I want a new spinning wheel, but when I balance the cost to the income we have and the outgo that slips through our fingers before the check clears the bank, I know a wheel is a dream that will just have to wait awhile.
Instead, I will spend that money on supplies for the farm and plenty of vegetable seeds. Having those is like having pure gold!
If I want something new, I always have to ask myself:
- can it produce an income?
- is it absolutely necessary?
- does it have long-term benefits?
A wheel doesn’t fit any of the three (but I can try hard to justify #3 with the Sanity plea – crafting is relaxing and helps me to maintain that sanity!)
What is Wealth…Really?
If money is what makes you wealthy, my question is, what are you going to do if you lose your job? There are many a ‘rich’ people who show that wealth on the outside with an accumulation of stuff – new boats, the latest model vehicle, designer clothes, and the latest greatest gadgets.
However, if you took a close look at their finances…let’s just say I would hate to be them if they ever lost their job. Their debt ratio is out of this world.
I may not have much in the way of material possessions, but we are so close to not owing anyone anything that I could care less about having a new boat. (The Country Boy, however, is still drooling about having a yacht in the pond, kinda like the uncles in Second Hand Lions. Sigh…)
My wealth doesn’t come from the size of my bank accounts, or the value of my land. And I don’t feel I have to show it by having a useless yacht.
My wealth comes from living a life of hard work. I can come inside in the evenings and have a heart that is full because I know I did my best and it shows.
Where True Wealth Comes From
Wealth in proportion comes from contentment. I don’t have the stress of keeping up with the Jones’, and am happy with what I have, rather than worrying about what I don’t have.
My wealth comes from a God who loves me enough to give me the talents I have to make this farm work. And Who loves me enough to tell me a firm ‘NO!’ when I go off on one of my want tangents.
True wealth comes from my heart, not from what others tell me it is. And if I am going to have an accumulation of anything, I prefer the accumulation of leaves, caught on a stick in the middle of the creek.
Give it Some Thought
Think about this the next time you see someone who makes you wish you ‘had what they have’. Will it really make you happy? Is it going to add to the contentment of your life? Or will it just feed your need to look good to others?
I will admit – our place would never make it to Farmitectural Digest. But it is a farm. It is open space with a beauty all its own. It is calming, chaotic, fun, exasperating, heartbreaking and joy-filled, sometimes all at once.
But it is our life, and I have learned the art of seeing wealth in proportion to what we have. And I thank God every day for it.
Monetary wealth? All fine and good. We could use a new barn right about now. But in the long run, I am just happy with where I am, who I am and what I have. I’ll leave the rest of it up to God.
Tips for adding Wealth to your Life
- Grow a Garden
- Learn to Can & Preserve the Harvest
- Clean out unwanted ‘extras’ – have a Yard Sale
- Create handmade gifts & items
- Keep track of your Money
- Raise Chickens for eggs & meat
- Add an Herb Garden
- Mend your Clothes
- Think about and care for Others
- Share the Load
- Find ways to change your Lifestyle
- Spend time for Yourself