Approximately 40% of American workers describe themselves as living “paycheck to paycheck”, and 20% or workers have been unable to make ends meet at least once in the last year. These aren’t staggering statistics at all. If we aren’t there ourselves, most of us have friends who are. Lauren and I are there sometimes… self-employed income isn’t uniform.
Just getting by. Barely making ends meet.
One of Lauren’s favorite stories is a grocery shopping trip while we were living in Charlotte. At that time, we were definitely ‘barely making ends meet.’ Lauren stuck to her shopping list and arrived at the checkout. When it was time to pay and she swiped the debit card – insufficient funds. We had cut up all of our credit cards so there was absolutely no way to pay. She took items away to decrease the total, and then tried again… and again… to no avail. She had no choice but to leave the store with a crying Andrew (3 years old at the time) in an empty cart yelling “Mom! Why don’t we have any money!?” Yes… embarrassing. But she wasn’t down for the count.
One of the differences between Lauren and me (ok… really it’s just one more reason why she’s cooler than me) is that she has never really let finances define failure or success for our family. I must admit that when we were struggling, I really did feel like a failure. But I wasn’t. And you are not a failure. Like me, you might be simply measuring success incorrectly.
‘Just getting by’ is difficult, but it can be good. And ‘struggling to make ends meet’ can actually be rewarding. In hindsight, some of our best memories as a couple and as a family were when we were very tight on money. We felt the most blessed during those times as we relied on each other and our faith. There were times when we worried, times when I had trouble sleeping at night just wondering how it would all work out. But month after month, we were successful by making the most with what we had – we were making life “work”.
Don’t get me wrong, success in your business or career is obviously rewarding as well and should be encouraged. Successful businesses have contributed greatly to the standard of living that we enjoy in America. But it’s not everything… and I don’t believe that is what determines your success or failure as a person and as a family.
Our society equates success with having money, power and the ability to do whatever you want. How backwards is this? We know it is an incorrect way of thinking, but it has been so ingrained in everything we see in media that it affects us. We may see some of our friends or other financially successful people in bigger houses and doing awesome things, and sometimes we can’t help but feel… kinda bad. That icky feeling is a powerful lie having control over us. Stop. Think for a moment about your definition of success. Here are some things I came up with:
There are so many more.
Our goal is to help you be intentional with money – no matter wherever you are financially – so you can more easily build ‘true wealth’ in the places that it matters most. You don’t need money to build a wealthy legacy in your family and community.
What are some ways that you measure success and wealth?