Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carrot On A String

Most cheapskates are sick of the same tired advice. (Remember the latte factor, pay yourself first, have a six month emergency fund, cook from scratch, get a side hustle, pay off high interest loans...). The counsel isn't bad. It's only frustrating because it doesn't 1) apply, or 2) deliver the promised "life will be wonderful when you're done" payoff. A carrot dangling on a string. Always out of reach.

I once criticized my dad's colleague’s work. He responded by putting himself in the other guy’s shoes. "No one sets out to make bad sculpture". This has financial implications. You do the best with what you have in hand. Skills, money, information, energy, and time are dropped off in various amounts at different seasons to various folks. It’s all a matter of using it. We all know spendthrifts, when confronted with the “latte factor” concept for the first time, have an epiphany. Those of us who cut costs wherever possible, and still tread water, look for more edgy ways to reach the magic carrot.

Should we seek the carrot at all? When, if after having done all we can, we still can’t retire, can’t give as we’d like, can’t help our kids more, and just get by, are we stupid, irresponsible failures? Sure, “the plowman ought to plow in hope”, so goals in themselves aren’t evil. But if we are faithful now, and God still doesn’t “bless us” here, is that wrong?

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