Thursday, February 19, 2009

Living Within Your Means / Meaning Within Your Lives

One of the lessons we learn during a recession is that we have to identify items in our budgets that we can minimize or do without. Some items that are luxuries are easy candidates for cutting while others that we consider essential are more difficult to cut. The way to approach this process is to assign a priority to every item in your budget and restrict your spending to those items that are higher priority or to the higher priority portion of each qualifying item. During times when there is plenty of money for everything, you may not bother with priorities because there is plenty of money for everything with some left over. If you are smart, you assign priorities in both good times and bad. You may have enough money to buy everything you want, but you should examine your options carefully before you buy more than you need. Another result of bad times is that most of us assign higher priority to those aspects of our lives that define our relationships to each other and to God. Reinhold Neibuhr, in his Interpretation of Christian Ethics, stated that it doesn't matter very much what you believe in when everything is going well, but that you had better prepare yourself to have strong beliefs and meaning in your life when things go wrong, and they will go wrong at some time. Now that we're in that kind of period, it's a good time for intense self-examination.

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