ICFE eNEWS #09-25 - November 9th 2009
Thanksgiving and Financial Health In The Midst of Economic Hard
by Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr. G. and a member of the ICFE's Board of Educational Advisors
There is a very real sense in which Thanksgiving can have a direct bearing on our financial health. What is the link between the two? Being thankful for what we have is an attitude that results in living within our means.
Think about it. Isn't it true that a spirit of discontentment will prompt us to always keep spending? That certainly describes many American families whose attitude seems to be "Never Enough!" That attitude leads to an action - get more! Getting more requires spending more. Could that be the reason the average American family spends 14% more than it earns?
Maybe this Thanksgiving Season is a good time to turn our Thanksgiving into "Thanks-Living?" Here are a couple of suggestions of how to do that.
First, imagine that tragedy strikes today and you lose everything you have. All your possessions are burned up in a fire and destroyed. You have no clothes, no house, no TV, no food, no money, and no keepsakes! Everything you have is taken away!
Now imagine that the next day, all of that which was taken away is now given back to you! Can you sense the amazing thrill of appreciation and thanksgiving you would experience? How happy you would be to have it all back! The point is obvious. We ought to be that happy and appreciative to have it all to begin with! If we were, we would not constantly be on a quest to have more. Contentment would substitute for complaining. (This principle applies to all our health woes too.)
Secondly, take a trip to visit someone who has less than you do. It might be across the world, across town, or across the street. Whenever we can see those who have less than we do, it makes us appreciate what we have.
My son just visited Zambia, Africa on a church trip to provide housing for the people there. He told me that these people have dirt floors, no electricity, and no plumbing and have no idea each morning what they will eat for their first meal. Yet, he said, they are the happiest people he has ever met! If they can be contented living with so little, can't we be content living with so much more?
The bottom line is that being thankful can affect your "bottom line." Being thankful for what we have brings contentment, and contentment results in living within our means. Living within our means creates financial health. Since most attitudes are a matter of choice, why not choose to turn your Thanksgiving into a year-'round spirit of Thanks-Living. It will good for your pocketbook!
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President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)
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