Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Coming Home To Roost?

In an opinion article on FoxNews titled The Chickens Come Home, Cal Thomas writes,

There is an old Puritan ethic called “living within your means.” In modern times the idea of Puritans and being “puritanical” have come in for much satire and even derision. But it is a fact (just as it is a fact that abstinence is the best practice for avoiding unintended pregnancy and STDs) that living within one’s means is the best way to avoid financial calamity.

Too many have ignored this ethic and bought houses they could not afford and their salaries would not support. Too many lending institutions were happy to lend them the money out of a misplaced faith that home prices would escalate without end and that if disaster occurred the federal government could always bail them out.

This would be understood in the Puritan era as greed. Many are now paying the price for their greediness and failure to live within their means.

Whether you agree or disagree with Thomas' opinions, one thing is certain. Americans have become materialistic and it is no different in the church of Christ. We no longer celebrate prudence and saving, but instead gather around to gawk at new cars in the church parking lot without even a question of how long that car is financed.

I know that calamities come and everything is not explained away as easily as "living within your means," but I also realize that a great deal of financial calamity is caused simply because one is living above their means. I've got a long way to go in my finances before I am where I need to be and I admit to probably spending too much at times. It is because I too struggle in these areas that I can see the value in Thomas' article.

Thomas also closes with an interesting line:

We should not fear failure. It is often an excellent teacher if one is open to being taught.

Keep this in mind the next time your son or daughter needs you to bail them out financially, maybe the best way for them to learn to live within their means is to see you living within yours.

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