Compared to my grandmother, I’m a lazy bum. Instead of hiring others to do domestic services for them, she and my grandfather focused more on how much money they could sock away for emergencies and for their “old age.”
Both lived to be nearly 100. They never applied for Medicaid or government assistance* or needed a handout or financial aid. They lived in their own home (purchased with cash) until they died. They never had a car loan, but always drove a nice car.
Grandma dressed like a million bucks. She could knit and quilt, cook, bake, clean, decorate and entertain. She could as easily sew a winter coat as a new throw pillow for the sofa.
She was an elegant, wonderful lady with an eye for beauty. She single-handedly landscaped their backyard in Spokane, Wash., planting trees, digging flower beds, installing borders and flowers that turned a gravel pit into a botanical garden. She never owned a pair of pants, doing everything in what she called a “house dress,” complete with stockings and jewelry. What a lady.
My grandmother would be amazed by all of the things we hire people to do for us. And we don’t even think of these things as luxuries, either. It’s the way that our society has evolved over the past 50 years. We’re made to believe it is natural and normal to hire others to do the things we could easily do for ourselves:
Bake our bread; cook our meals; clean our clothes; grow our produce; wash our cars; change the oil in our cars; service our appliances; mow our lawns; clean our homes; cut our hair; manicure our hands; pedicure our feet; massage our bodies; wax our brows; polish our shoes; teach our kids; clean our pools; wash our windows; sew and mend our clothes; wash, groom and walk our pets; haul our trash; and drive us to the airport.
We’re going through a major financial crisis in this country that stems from one four-letter word: D-E-B-T. We’ve overdosed on living beyond our means.
Someday, things will turn around. How will you react? Do you plan to go back to the way you were, spending all you have and feeling fully justified to hire others to do things you really could do for yourself? Why? Do you really think that magically everything will just turn around and you’ll never have to be concerned about money again? What a silly way to think. Some might even call that insanity.
Sure we live in different times than my grandparents. But good financial principles are enduring. Just imagine how much money you could have socked away in the last 10 years if you’d focused on preparing for the future instead of thinking of all the ways you could get others to do stuff for you.
It’s not that Mamie and Billy Schwartz were financial geniuses. They were realists. They created a hefty safety net, and in doing so they found the peace and dignity of being self-reliant. No one could have ever accused them of being lazy.
Will your grandkids be able to say the same about you?
*U.S. Social Security is not government assistance. Those who pay into the system become eligible upon full retirement age, to get back what is theirs based upon what they and or their spouse has paid in.