Here’s the thing about money that I’ve learned over the years: you can live with a lot less of it than you think you can, if you learn the difference between a want and a need.
A need is something you’ll die without – or at least be unhealthy without. A roof over your head, or at least adequate shelter. Food, and I mean real food, not convenience food or food-like substances. Medical treatment, and that includes preventing illness as much as treating it.
Don’t get caught up in the myth that you can have everything your heart desires and pay for it later. Buy a house you can afford, not one that’ll impress your family, friends and coworkers. So the kids have to share a bedroom; generations of Americans grew up sharing space and were better for it. Drive a car that gets you where you need to get, even if it’s not new, cool, or can double as your mobile “sanctuary.”
If you don’t have the money to pay for it, then don’t buy it. And just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of it. An elephant for a dime is only a deal if you have a dime - and you need an elephant.
It’s a lesson that took me decades to learn, but once I did? Life got a lot less complicated and I was a lot more satisfied.
This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.