I see myself as an average 49-year-old college educated professional, working hard earning an average salary, and leading an unremarkable life. However, in several ways, I’m a shining star! First, I save a large part of my income. Next, my Body Mass Index is a fit 21. Finally, I have zero financial dept except a first mortgage for one-eighth of my home’s value. How is it this average guy can end up on top of the statistical heap regarding several important lifestyle choices? It is because of my core belief: I believe in moderation.
My Father grew up in a working class family, the first to go to college. My Mother grew up in poverty in England. They were born in the 1920’s, and shaped by the Great Depression. My parents’ advice was: learn and work hard, understand what you need and want, and save for the future. So I did. I’ve never liked going to the mall. I don’t have a house or a rented self-storage space full of stuff. My car, not extra stuff, is in the garage. The high quality material possessions I do own must work well, and include a spiritual aspect. For example, my professional level bicycles keep me happy, calm, and fit year round. The Harley-Davison I waited decades for is a source of relaxation and joy for me, and also provides efficient personal transportation. My travels are sometimes an adventure, and always a chance to contemplate.
My belief in moderation is with me when I’m eating, reminding me to count calories and compare against what I need to maintain a steady weight. It was not always this way for me. About a decade ago, I had stopped my usual bicycle riding, I had a stressful job, and my Brother died suddenly. That helped me eat way too much, and I gained over 20 pounds – a lot for my size. But my belief was stronger than my new belly. I bought a mountain bike, rode difficult terrain, moderated my diet, and lost the extra weight.
My moderate lifestyle also benefits the environment and my bottom line. My modest 2 year-old car gets 30 to 35 miles per gallon. I drink tap water from reusable plastic bottles. I don’t water or fertilize the lawn. My wife and I use just 1 room air conditioner to cool only our bedroom in our 1,600 square foot home. In summer we enjoy dinner in a screened porch, listening to baseball on the radio, while the house cools down. We don’t have cable TV. Our cat is used – he comes from the shelter.
As I write this in February 2008, worldwide equity markets are down, domestic inflation is rising, and people everywhere are talking about recession. Many Americans are losing their jobs, and so much worse: their homes. I feel for everyone who suffers as a result of a downward economic cycle, or a spurious economic bubble. But I’m fortunate, and I shouldn’t suffer. I’ll be OK, I believe in moderation.
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