Examining Our Attitudes Towards Money

Guest blogger Jamie Huston posts again!

What have been some of the major themes of General Conference talks the last few years? We can easily rattle off a list: morality and pornography, social issues, debt, and raising the bar on missionary work, to name a few. But there is one other theme that is rarely mentioned because, often, it makes us uncomfortable.

Money. We’re being warned about our attitude toward it, and that often makes us defensive. We’re warned, but since the Church can’t simply place a limit on our assets, we may not be sure what the ideal position is. But if our leaders have seen fit to bring it up, we ought to think about it and realize we may need to make some changes. This is a sensitive subject, so let’s be clear on the purpose of this essay: not to accuse anyone of anything, but to serve as a guide for self-analysis in an area that we may often ignore exactly because it is so sensitive.

At the October 2004 General Conference, two general authorities gave consecutive talks denouncing materialism among the Latter-day Saints. Presiding Bishop David H. Burton spoke of restraining our worldly success, concluding by saying, “A prayerful, conservative approach is the key to successfully living in an affluent society and building the qualities that come from waiting, sharing, saving, working hard, and making do with what we have.”1

Then, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “We should end our fixation on wealth…. I feel that some are so concerned about the type of car they drive, the expensive clothes they wear, or the size of their house in comparison to others that they lose sight of the weightier matters.”2 More recently, Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy has written in the March 2005 Ensign of a concern he shared with a stake president for an “increasing number of Church members who focus their attention” on worldly possessions.3 The prophetic warnings on this issue seem to be increasing, just as they may be increasingly ignored.

People often take this statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley as their guideline on the subject of money: “The Lord did not intend that his people should live in poverty and misery and insecurity forever, the Lord intended that they should appropriately enjoy the good things of the earth.”4

But it’s hard to square building mansions for ourselves and collecting as many gadgets as we can with President Hinckley’s observation that we should “appropriately” enjoy the good things of the earth, especially in light of what else the prophets have said about amassing wealth. After all, this is the same President Hinckley who famously said, “I urge you to be modest in your expenditures.”5

We all think we’re living acceptably in this area, but have we really put enough thought and prayer into it? Let’s put it this way—if we, as individuals, did make the pursuit of money our top priority, would our actions be much different? Discussions among members about materialism usually seem to end up comforting everybody, but if nobody ever feels the need to change, how can that be the right message? Don’t any of us need to repent of excess worldliness?

Realistically, there is no rule for how much wealth is too much, so the individual must decide how to live. But isn’t it strange then that so many Latter-day Saints still live as lavishly as they possibly can? Rare is the man who actually lives below his means, who chooses a humble life free of material distractions.

If there’s no absolute standard for how many possessions we can have, but we know that comfort can corrupt us, isn’t it safer to choose less rather than more? Aren’t affluent Latter-day Saints playing with fire? Isn’t actively avoiding materialism more virtuous than trying to preserve the Spirit in a home choked by abundance?

In the April 1999 General Conference, Elder Joe J. Christensen denounced another excuse of Latter-day Saints for focusing on financial success: raising their children. “We should avoid spoiling children by giving them too much. In our day, many children grow up with distorted values because we as parents overindulge them… One of the most important things we can teach our children is to deny themselves. Instant gratification generally makes for weak people. How many truly great individuals do you know who never had to struggle?”6

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy, in his counsel to wean families from worldliness, even advises not to give a car to older teens.7 Surveying those who reduce material sway in their lives, one Latter-day Saint biographer wrote, “Several individuals noted that buying less made their children more appreciative and less demanding.”8 Here’s another question for introspection: what model of excess do we have to compare ourselves to before we look humble?

Some have even interpreted the fact that early members received materials according to their “wants and needs” (D&C 51:3) to mean that the righteous may be supplied with whatever they desire, but the word “want” here means a lack of something necessary, as in D&C 84:112: “Search after the poor and administer to their wants.” Especially relevant to the idea of greed is D&C 70:7: “Inasmuch as they receive more than is needful for their necessities and their wants, it shall be given into my storehouse.”

This commandment reminds us that our surplus is not ours to keep; it is to be given to the Lord’s work. Holding back by creatively defining what is “needful for our necessities” is also wrong for, as we are taught in the temple, the righteous approach to money is to be content with sufficient for our needs.

President Heber J. Grant echoed this thinking: “Another thing that we want to learn as Latter-day Saints—and I have gone to work to learn it—is to… confine ourselves to the necessities of life, and not to indulge in extravagant habits. If we have a surplus, use it as God desires that we should use it—for the onward advancement of His kingdom and the spread of the Gospel…”9 How many of us can name all nine categories of donations listed on a Church tithing slip?

President Spencer W. Kimball challenged church members to dissociate themselves from material goods and increase their fast offerings as much as possible: “I think we should be very generous and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more where we are in a position to do it.”10

Two years later, President Kimball spent the bulk of a message meant to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial on a warning about our increasing idolatry, to use his word: “I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with…acres and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security…Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God.”11

The concern in LDS leadership about straying into worldliness has its paragon in a prophetic warning given by Brigham Young: “The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth.”12

What a prophecy! Nobody can argue that he was wrong: we, as a people, have become rich, and have often become complacent because of it. Of course, this material comfort may largely be the natural consequence of generations of virtuous living, but it’s still part of the test of life. How many of us are willing to face the Lord right now and declare a righteous investment of the resources He’s given to us?

LDS historian Hugh Nibley described a proper gospel mindset concerning money: “Every step in the direction of increasing one’s personal holdings is a step away from Zion…. God recognizes only one justification for seeking wealth, and that is with the express intent of helping the poor…. Man’s wants are few. ‘Having food and raiment,’ says Paul, ‘let us therewith be content’ (1 Timothy 6:8)…. To take more than we need is to take what does not belong to us.”13 Each of us who is endowed is obligated to live the law of consecration now, which requires us to give everything we have back to the Lord.

Compare this idea with images of Latter-day Saints who live simply: “One woman, after reading Approaching Zion… now buys clothes only when she actually needs them. These and other changes, she testifies, have made her life simpler and calmer. Another correspondent took Hugh’s warnings about materialism to heart and has stayed in his ‘starter’ home… Several others identified similar Nibley-influenced lifestyle changes: they buy less, live more modestly, and give more of their income to support the Church, the missionaries, and the poor.”14

LDS leaders have always emphasized sacrifice as a necessary element of their worship. Joseph Smith wrote: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”15 A March 2004 Ensign article collects teachings of several prophets extolling sacrifice as a virtue in and of itself.16 It hardly needs to be explained that a sacrifice, by definition, is volunteering to give up something that we will be worse off without, something that hurts to give, not just throwing a few spare scraps to D.I.

So instead of living as opulently as we can, it seems that we should spend as little as possible, not purchase things we don’t need, stop spoiling our children, give all our surplus resources to the Church, make serious physical sacrifices for the Church, and be content with a materially simple life.

This isn’t to say that we’re all terrible or that nobody is a good example, but couldn’t we all do a little better? Shouldn’t we honestly examine ourselves in light of what our leaders have taught and stop saying, “I’m good enough,” and start asking, “How can I change to become as Christlike as possible in this area?”

1 David H. Burton, “More Holiness Give Me,” Ensign, November 2004, 100.

2Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Press On,” Ensign, November 2004, 102.

3Mervyn B. Arnold, “Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts,” Ensign, March 2005, 64-67.

4Gordon B. Hinckley, “Pillars of Truth,” Ensign, January 1994, 7.

5Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and To the Men,” Ensign, November 1998, 54.

6 Joe J. Christensen, “Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence,” Ensign, May 1999, 9.

7 Gene R. Cook, Raising Up A Family To The Lord, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, 1993, 252.

8 Boyd Jay Petersen, Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, Greg Kofford Books: Salt Lake City, 2002, 47.

9 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Salt Lake City, 2002, 126.

10 In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 184.

11 Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976, 4.

12 Quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft: Salt Lake City, 1969, 48.

13Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City and FARMS: Provo, 1989, 37, 53, 49-50.

14 Petersen, 47.

15 Lectures on Faith, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, 1985, 6:7.

16 “Latter-day Prophets Speak: Sacrifice: Key to the Abundant Life,” Ensign, March 2004, 54.

NOTE: Yes, this post previously appeared on my own blog. Sorry for the tacky recycling job, but this issue has been on my mind again a lot in recent weeks: the recession has hit donations to the Church pretty hard, but luckily everybody has been able to preserve their emergency storage of satellite dishes and gruelling recreation schedule.

Comments

  1. The problem is “excess” (nebulously defined). I don’t think it’s that difficult to imagine a life where we enjoy the things of the earth without going to excess. Drive a nice car? Sure. Have a fleet of Ferraris? That might be excess. Enjoy a nice steak now and again? Sure. Eat like a pig every night? Excess. Buy a nice house in the suburbs with a pool in your backyard? Might be OK, if you’re not overdoing your debt. Buy a house that’s clearly more than you *need*? Excess.

    It’s OK to be a gourmand but not a glutton.

  2. Julie M. Smith says:

    “if we, as individuals, did make the pursuit of money our top priority, would our actions be much different?”

    Excellent question.

    I thought this was interesting:

    http://www.globalrichlist.com/

  3. One thought only:

    Every penny we pay to already rich creditors is a penny we can’t donate to charities that help the needy. Selfishness can be manifested in numerous ways.

  4. Elsewhere I wrote the following, on our tendency towards a Calvinist capitalism to justify just about whatever we collectively want to:

    Jacob admonishes, “…before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God” (Jacob 2:18). The logic runs thus: (1) before we seek for riches, we need to seek for the kingdom of God; (2) many members of the Church are seeking for riches; (3) therefore, those members have already found the kingdom of God.

  5. Sterling says:

    Have we ever been encouraged to include the church in our estate planning? Would our attitudes toward money change if we made plans to leave most of our wealth to the church when we died?

  6. One financial adviser suggests applying a “share-save-spend” approach. Here is a link to an SOF radio episode on the topic.

    Thanks for the post.

  7. GREAT post! I missed it on your personal blog. Thanks so much for posting it here. Personally, I appreciate the reminder and the prompting to examine my own habits. I believe I have grown complacent and too satisfied with what I’m doing. We live well within our means but I believe we could certainly live more simply and give more toward caring for the poor and building the kingdom.

  8. Rare is the man who actually lives below his means, who chooses a humble life free of material distractions.

    You might be surprised. I’ve known several people who have lived very modestly who have been wealthy. In each instance, I never would have known except it had come to my attention that the person had done something amazingly, quietly generous. There is no sign outside of their home announcing their wealth. No clothes or cars to clue us in. We don’t know because they are not flaunting it.

  9. One place where I have some trouble drawing a distinction is between investing and opulence, or preparation and greed.

    For example am I buying that really nice car because it is a high quality machine that is efficient, reliable and will have a long life and will therefore cost less over the time I own it, or am I buying it because it’s really nice and it will impress my friends?

    Or am I investing lots of money in a 401k because I’m taking responsibility for my future financial security, or because I want to live the high life when I retire?

    This is a good reminder that sometimes things we do to be prepared or self-sufficient may not be the wisest or most charitable use of our resources.

  10. I think it’s important to distinguish between the materialistic and the wealthy. They don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. In fact, that is probably the biggest problem: having eyes bigger than your stomach. It’s not inherently evil to have a lot of money. Like queuno said, it’s ok to enjoy the nice things in life, as long as it isn’t gluttonous or out of your means. And no matter your wealth status, being charitable with your excess.

    On that note, as a young, married, recent college grad with a baby, it was a nice kick to the head to read the post and remember some financial perspective.

  11. jonahtrainer says:

    I have found that wealth usually just makes people more of who they really are. Rarely does wealth change one’s heart; it simply magnifies what is already.

    As Pres. Benson said, “Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.”

    I have found that those of pure heart who have earned their wealth rarely have much to think about on the subject and earned their wealth because they added value to society by fulfilling needs and wants. Of course, with the current monetary system in place the market rewarding value added to society is made much more difficult.

    America’s society is much too open about their wealth. They should be more like the Austrians or Jersey where financial privacy is protected under law and anyone with a financial relationship (banker, trustee, etc.) who reveals any information without the consent of the person to whom that information pertains can face jail time.

    In addition, after one has set their heart on the kingdom of God how could they not seek for riches? How could they see the suffering and not want to produce wealth so they could help those in need? (Jacob 2:18-19)

    One is not much use at feeding the hungry when their own stomach is growling.

  12. Ray #3, creditor corporations aren’t people. The actual people that benefit from a bank getting making lots of money are largely the shareholders and employees – upper-middle-class to be sure, but hardly rich.

    I think the answer, as Jamie noted is to honestly search our own hearts. Certainly it’s a step above asking if the Lord would want us to use our income better but the problem is when our soul becomes gluttoned to the point where we see nothing wrong with and/or rationalize excessiveness.

    Also, knowing when that’s the case is impossible without knowing the detailed finances – which means that no one else could really give friendly advice that we should be less excessive.

  13. Aaron Brown says:

    But if no one buys all the Rolexes in the Ben Bridge window, and all the Mercedes on the lot, then those luxury goods will just sit there! What a waste! That would be sad. How will those items fulfill the measure of their creation?

  14. great post. Thank you.

  15. #9: If you are driving that car 150,000 miles and for 15 years…you are safe.

  16. “give all our surplus resources to the Church”

    Do you not think there are worthy causes outside the church?

  17. #12 – Sam, I know that, but the point still holds, imo. Excess credit does more to line pockets than to help the poor. There are multiple reasons we are encouraged to get out of debt as much as possible, and our increased ability to help others is not the smallest reason.

  18. Orson Scott Card’s article, “Consecration, A Law We Can Live With”, is rather on-target with the issue of the desire of money.

    Here’s a taste of what he wrote:

    A man awoke one morning hearing the words of a dream, and when he wrote them down he discovered that they were the words that the chronicler of the Book of Mormon might have written, had he lived in our time, setting down a record of our dealings with each other and with the Lord.

    And it came to pass in the latter days that most of the believers in the promised land had set their hearts upon the things of the world.

    2. They labored all day and into the night, both men and women, to earn money to buy the things the world called good, or to rise to a position of great honor in the world.

    3. But the money they earned was never enough, and the things they bought did not make them happy, and the offices and honors they won were never secure;

    4. Even when they had earned great wealth, the world persuaded them that they needed more.

    5. And even when they had achieved high offices and great honors, their ambition was unsatisfied,

    6. For they had forgotten that the rewards of the world come from Satan, and so have no substance.

    7. To win the rewards of the world, they sacrificed the time they should have spent teaching their children.

    8. They thrust their little ones out of their home into the care of strangers, in order to earn enough money to buy a grand house.

    9. And when they had their grand house, the world said, They must be great people to have such a house!

    10. But their children were strangers in their new home; they knew neither their father nor their mother, and often left the place, as a traveler leaves an unfriendly inn without a backward glance

    This was written some 15 years ago for Sunstone.
    Clearly, the lessons have yet to be learned….

  19. Maybe the Joker had an important message for us afterall.

  20. Peter LLC says:

    Wealth is only meaningful in context, and when I consider articles like this or even this, there is no way I could consider myself excessive.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m a ong-time Nibleyophile and so have been influenced to some extent by him. I still live in my modest starter home; I drive a 2001 Toyota Corolla; I practice an area of law (public finance) that deals with financing projects for the public good (streets, sewers, hospitals, airports, low-income housing, etc.), is somewhat less remunerative than many other specialties, but also is generally less demanding of time and more civil in regards to spending time with one’s family.

    But I’m no ascetic and not perfect. Probably my biggest vice is that I go out to eat and watch a movie pretty much every Friday and Saturday. And that’s not changing any time soon. That’s my natural man at work.

  22. Katie Langston says:

    And in much of the rest of the world, the fact that many of us own our own homes and cars would be seen as opulent and excessive.

    I agree with #10: Wealth is not materialism and materialism is not wealth. One can be wealthy and generous and giving–and do much good, oftentimes more good and on a larger scale than those with lesser material means.

    The true danger lies in the quest for power and prestige and the glory of men instead the glory of God. Unfortunately, this vice is prevalent at all levels of the socio-economic spectrum, and we’d be unwise to point fingers at just the wealthy. (Actually, I guess we’d be unwise to point fingers at, really, anyone!)

    I once heard someone describe money as amoral: it is neither good nor bad, but what you do with your money says a lot about your character.

  23. Walt Nicholes says:

    There is a fundamental law of heaven here – irrevocably decreed: Whatever brings you closer to Christ and an emulation of his behaviors is good. Whatever does not is not good.

    Relative to riches, even for those who seek a lot of money to do good, if their acquisition and preservation of their wealth (with them living on the “crumbs” in comparison,) distracts them from the things of Christ, their riches will be a canker to their soul.

    Drive a nice car? Why? If it leads you to be more like Christ it is a good thing, if it leads you (pride perhaps, or even the pleasurable self-assessment of your investment wisdom,) away from Christ it will be damning to your soul.

    Remember that the wisdom of the world (quality first) is still the wisdom of the world. And the foolishness of the world is frequently the wisdom of angels.

    And like so many of you, I worry for those whose pride drives them to be more generous with their fellow men that someone else is.

  24. Peter LLC says:

    Actually, I guess we’d be unwise to point fingers at, really, anyone!

    Not if they deserve it, and I don’t know a group of people that obsesses more about money than those that don’t have any–point away, I say!

  25. This scripture from OT prophet Haggai, ch 1 verses 5 & 6, seem cogent:

    5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
    6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

    It gets easy to be judgmental in these cases, but I think our motives need to be closely examined in regards to worldy wealth. It’s something I worry about for myself constantly.

  26. I’ve been waiting for someone to quote D&C 121:34-35: “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men…”

    Our hearts can be set upon the things of this world regardless of our net worth. Jacob 2:19 says we should “liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted” with our riches. So I don’t know; how do we estimate our own needs as opposed to the needs of others? I think that is at the heart of this.

  27. jonahtrainer says:

    Peter in #24, precisely. Often those moochers and looters (either illegal criminals or governmental agents) embrace governmental policies of theft and force (Welfare/Warfare State Hel. 7:5) to infringe on the agency of the producers (property represents the fruits of one’s agency in the past). Yes, elections really are just advance auctions on stolen goods such as how to provide universal health care (welfare) or staying in Iraq for 100 years (warfare).

    Wealth is just increased freedom, or greater power, to carry out the exercise of one’s agency. Should we not seek to be like Christ or the Father? They sure allocate their wealth wisely.

  28. jonahtrainer,
    I think you may have misunderstood Peter LLC a bit.

  29. Just vote Democrat. You will be freed of your guilt.

  30. Yeah, that’ll fix it for Jonah.

  31. “. . . if we, as individuals, did make the pursuit of money our top priority, would our actions be much different?”

    I, like Julie, think this is the most important sentence in this entire post. It deserves quite a bit of attention and is something that each one of us should think about and take into consideration. Very profound question, Jamie. Thank you.

  32. The true danger lies in the quest for power and prestige and the glory of men instead the glory of God.
    Sometimes we think of these quests as overt and evil and something “others” do. But power and prestige and glory are things we are often seduced to. We think when we have money and power we will do so much good, unlike the people who have it now. But money and power are seductive and lead us to desire them more, not less. It is not enough to have enough. We need to have more than others.

    Poor man want to be rich, rich man want to be king, and a king ain’t satisfied until he rules everything.

  33. Other than voting Democrat, you can offer matching funds. That gives you a feeling of Charity, but ends up costing you little.

  34. This is a difficult issue for the two reasons the author mentioned above, 1) it strikes at the very core of Utah/Mormon culture – Bankruptcies up 40%, foreclosures up 142%. 2) Because there is no definitive metric defining the boundaries. I would however, like to note perhaps two issues implied that are often joined, but not always and not necessarily, accumulation of wealth and overindulgence. The primary purpose of breadwinners is the securing of resources to meet the families (and if possible community) needs, and provide a large store for contingencies.

    So often those who possess wealth are criticized for their efforts, and blamed as lovers of money more than God or family. “They could have spent more time at home”. We generally label anyone who works more than 40 hrs as workaholics, however historically speaking most all of our ancestors including Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, would laugh at our 40 hr. work week. So except in rare circumstances (again hard to define) work is an acceptable place for the primary supporter to be. As I have found, often times working long hours is not done in the selfish shortrun attempt of earning more coin. Rather, money, work, oppurtunity, is all volatile and is often entirely lost by those who spend more time at home.

    The second point, overindulgence/they ways in which we spend our money, is the real culprit in determining our attitudes about money. Just a short story: Because of the nature of my business I work with a number of wealthy individuals. A few years ago I worked with one in particular, who I thought I saw as the greedy wealthy spender, and this mainly because he had a low stress level and commanded huge amounts of wealth. Later this man was called to serve as a Mission President in Europe (Mission Presidents must meet asset qualifications to be selected generally). I was surprised when I attended a social gathering just before his departure, at his home. I would guess based on the neighborhood, and the house that the current market value on the home in Utah would have been $230 K. I’ll bet that when he bought it thirty years ago, it cost $50 K, and has had $30 K in improvements. Point being, money was not his God, he controlled millions (this I know for fact), yet there was no overindulgence in his lifestyle.

    I would just argue as the saying goes, don’t tell me what you value, show me your check register and I will tell you what you value.

  35. Erick: mine would show you that I value my wife – ALL of my checks go to her! =)

    Now, if you were to look at my CC transactions, well…

  36. #34:Erick. we totally agree on overindulgence! Just the other day, I was about to order some trousers from a catalog and said: “No sir, no sir. I am not buying there 88s, when I have a prefectly good pair of 86s on my clothes hanger!”

  37. re: foreclosures way up, have sister who was a very successful loan manager, got out a year ago, said she saw the writing on the wall. Said loans were being granted to people who absolutely had no business applying for them w/no way to meet ballon payments as they came due but could actually buy & live in homes until they were foreclosed on cheaper than they could rent so why not?…

    We as a nation have an appetite for consumable goods that is astonishing. Great reality check. Thanks for the post. I’m going to my desk now to redo my budget.

  38. StillConfused says:

    I know so many LDS singles (especially men, surprisingly) who live paycheck to paycheck and give no thought to how they will care for their children tomorrow. What a terrible mindset that we need to change. As soon as my children were born, I set up a college plan for them. I have had a retirement plan since I was 18, even when I was making minimum wage. I actually had one LDS parent say that my dad was a bad parent because he did not spend every penny on his children but rather had a modest savings account and retirement plan. What will this country look like in 20 years or so when all of these decisions come home to roost??

  39. #36-

    Now I’m beginning to regret my 89’s.

  40. Wealth and consumption are all so relative. We tend to base our view of “enough” and “too much” based on how we are raised, how we live now, who we work with, and who our friends are. And our judgements of others’ consumption are usually relative to our own subjective standards.

    Also, I agree with Jami in #8 that there are many whose relatively low consumption masks their wealth. Conversely, there are people whose relatively conspicuous consumption creates a false appearance of wealth.

  41. There is an overabundance of “stuff” available to us. This stuff fills storage units across the country. This stuff fills our closets, drawers, cabinets, attics, garages, etc. When people die, all the stuff they have collected is still just stuff. Most times it’s more than is needed to survive. Less is often better. If it hasn’t been used in the last year, get rid of it! Share it with the Salvation Army. There are just too many different reasons why people collect what they do for any one blanket cause, such as being materialistic, to acurately jugde them all. Let us be careful and only look at ourselves for the places of improvement needed in our own lives. There is always room for that.

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