If You Spend It

If You Spend It, Make Sure You Have It 
If You Have It, Don’t Spend It All

I have to admit that I have been prone to foolish spending in the past. If I had the money, I wanted to spend it to acquire stuff. I didn’t just want to “make do”, I had to have the “best”.

I’d spend down to the last penny to get it. I’d save and scrape pennies wherever I could find them to acquire “stuff”. Then, I found that I could get “stuff” on credit. I’d connive and juggle funds until I could “just get by” and make the payment on the bigger and better stuff that I was trying to acquire. Then, I found that lending institutions would bombard my mailbox with credit cards to spend on additional extended credit! Sign me up!

I said all that to say this, I WAS STUPID! First of all, all that “stuff” that I went into debt to acquire is GONE! It didn’t last and neither did the “pride of ownership” that went with acquiring it. The bigger house is gone. The nicer vehicles, they are gone too. All the “stuff” is gone! Not only did I manage myself, and my family, into an unimaginable amount of debt (let me translate as CREDIT), I managed myself into bankruptcy!

Now why would I do that? It’s called foolish spending. Hey, everybody does it. It’s the American way! Right? Well, it shouldn’t be.

I recall my dad took out a yearly loan to cover expenses for producing a crop whether it be livestock or row crops. Each year he made a living. I think the best year he ever had was when he cleared a little more than $16,000.00 profit! We worked hard for the $16,000.00 and you can bet that NONE of it was spent foolishly. Our home? Our home was a very simple ranch 3-bedroom, 2 bath and we didn’t have that until I was thirteen years old. We built it and paid cash for it. Our vehicles? Well we only had one and every vehicle we had that could remember was an International Harvester pickup truck. Ugly as homemade sin and had a ride like a 1927 log wagon. It was arguably one of the toughest working trucks ever made. It didn’t have carpet or air conditioning. It didn’t even have a radio but give it a place to stand and it would pull the world.

My dad grew up in the Great Depression. His dad died when he was nine years old. That left my grandmother, who was crippled, to raise twelve kids to be grown without any government assistance. There was no government assistance. Dad knew the value of the dollar. He knew what it was like to hoe cotton from sun up to sun down for two bits a day. Two bits is twenty-five cents, for those of you who don’t know what two bits are. There was no foolish spending when he was growing up and there was no foolish spending when I grew up because we needed every dime to survive. My dad made sure of that because he would squeeze the nickel so tightly that George Washington would beg for a breath.

The problem with Americans, which was the problem that I had as well, is that they get what “I want” confused with what “I need”. They allow what “I want” to control them to the point that the start believing that what “I want” is what “I need”. Actually, they think that obtaining what they want will make them feel better. And it might make them feel better for a little while or until the newness of ownership wears off. Or, until they have to put in overtime to actually pay for it. They work so much overtime that they don’t get to actually enjoy the “stuff” they are working overtime to pay for. Then, “I want” takes over again to acquire something new, bigger, better or whatever when what they “need” is to quit spending money and save for some of the things they want and concentrate on what they need.

For example. I like woodworking. I like making things. I used to dream of a nice, big shop with a 3 horsepower, 220-volt, 50-inch rip table saw. A Saw stop table saw to be exact. They only cost $3800.00 dollars. I dreamed of an 8-inch jointer and a 16-inch planer and a host of other power tools. It would be easy to fill a $30,000.00 shop with $30,000.00 of power tools. You know what? A man would have to build and sell a lot of cabinets or furniture to justify a $60,000.00 shop! One day while I was dreaming, I thought to myself, “That’s a stupid dream. You’ll never get enough orders to justify that kind of expense and even if you did, you wouldn’t have time to fill the orders. Even if you did, it wouldn’t be fun anymore. It would be work.”

Here’s the realistic dream. I have a small, contractor job site table saw and a miter saw. Neither cost more than $300.00. I like using them. But when I look through history, some of the most beautiful furniture, William & Mary, Chippendale, ect., ever made was constructed using nothing but HAND tools. Bench planes, chisels, Brace & Bit, and hand saws. If they can do it, then so can I. I can hear some of you now, “Yeah, but you can do so much more with power tools and faster too.” That may be true. You can amputate fingers, hands, arms, and other appendages pretty quickly. However, my desire is to make things for my home, for my children, and my grandchildren. That means more to me if it doesn’t mean anything to them. To give them something that I made for them, by hand, that will last and that their grandchildren can use, that means more to me than just showering them with cash. They would probably prefer the cash.

I can buy the hand tools to outfit an entire woodworking shop for much less than I would spend on the Saw stop table saw that I mentioned earlier. Add to that the fact that there will not be near as much saw dust to breath in or the fact that I don’t have to worry about cutting a finger or hand off. Well, Saw stop has a braking technology that prevents amputated appendages but a jointer or a router will still mess up a project. I’ve never heard of anyone sawing their own leg off with a hand saw.

Foolish spending is the American way. Everybody does it. However, I am ashamed that it took me half a century to figure out that the American way is killing me. I’m not going to live forever but I don’t want to accelerate the process either.

In the Book of Matthew 16:26 (that’s in the Bible), JESUS said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

 Wake up America and learn this Life Lesson! Too many are exchanging their souls in the chase of money and the “stuff” they want thinking that the “stuff” is what they need! There’s a Life Lesson worth learning!

God Bless!

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