I have been thinking a lot about money the last few days. Today a friend posted on Facebook about wealth, and a picture of someone she recognized as being wealthy even though to a lot of people in this world, they wouldn’t have thought that. I have learned as I have gotten older that money isn’t what life is all about, and that wealth doesn’t always bring the ease and leisure that we might have hoped. In fact, wealth has very little to do with money, and everything to do with life and your perspective about life.

My husband and I have never made a lot of money when you look at the national averages and what they consider wealthy, middle class, and lower class incomes. But over the years I have had the opportunity to learn how to manage what we do have so that it will stretch as far as we need it to. Because my husband is a general contractor, we don’t get paid like a lot of working people. We get paid by the job or at certain intervals during the job, and when the job is finished, the money stops coming. This means that I have had to learn how to make the money stretch until the next job is at least partially finished so we can get a payment. Sometimes that’s just weeks away from the last job, sometimes it’s six or more months away, and we really never know because, in his industry, you don’t have a job until you’re on the job working.

I used to struggle, watching everyone else around me going on vacation, or buying their kids cool electronics or new cell phone. But we had goals, and we didn’t let those feelings of jealousy or envy take hold. We stuck to our goals, and continue to do so. Sometimes that means we live differently than others, but I have found happiness and peace as we have maintained a lifestyle of living debt free and paying for everything when we purchase it rather than getting a loan or putting it on a credit card to pay over time. This approach to our finances has allowed us to have peace of mind. Sometimes we are stretched thin, but we don’t owe anyone anything so we know we’ll be ok in the long run.

I have also learned that managing the money we have is key to that peace. So many people in this world pay for things on credit, or think that somehow if they don’t pay that the companies they owe money to will have to somehow work with them to help them pay it off, or forgive the debt somehow. That’s a lot of somehows! But they aren’t in business to give people free stuff, that’s not how a business works, and if we agree to use their service then we agree to pay for that service. It works the same with college debt, car loans, anything you buy on credit is now your responsibility to pay for. That’s how it works. We need to be aware enough of our finances that we can make wise decisions as to how to spend what we have, spend less than we have, and keep a little bit for a rainy day, because rainy days come way more than we might like to admit.

Lastly, gratitude plays a huge part, more so than money, in how happy and content we are with what we have. When we can be grateful for the job we have, the food we eat, the home we live in, the ability to do what we do, grateful for everything in life, then we recognize what real wealth is. Peace of mind and peace of conscience can’t be bought, they have to be worked for, planned for, and sacrificed for. But when you have those things, you realize how wealthy you really are.

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