The Tale of the CheckBook - Just a Thought, Reality Check
Originally Written 04/28/09
I've heard a few Sermons over the years on money, not the most popular topic by any means as it calls one to an accountability of ones own assets and the use of said assets for the "greater good". In these times of economic woe I thought this would be a good time to tell the story of one particular check book I saw, and what it said about it's owner. I'll never for get it.
The news started this morning with the story of the Presidential plane flying over NYC with an F-16 in toe, forget the fact for a moment that this was idiotic beyond any level of common sense, especially without notice to the leaders and citizens of the surrounding area. But in addition to that, do you have any idea what the cost of getting just those 2 planes up there would be? I mean with the financial mess were in as a country right now was this "photo-op" really needed? especially for what it costs? Anyone ever heard of photoshop? Yes I'm off track already, but this is the premise to the point, as we are all having to cut back and make do, our leadership is off doing things like this with our tax dollars. We thought the corporate CEO"s were out of touch, but obviously none moreso than our current Governmental leadership. Now to the topic, as stated,
I've heard it said, and it rings pretty true that your check book says a lot about you. A few years ago an older gentleman passed away and I had the "duty" of going through his things and handling his ending affairs. When it came to the checkbook and going through to make sure everything had cleared and paying off the last of his obligations I discovered something pretty amazing. Thats what this deal is about.
To begin with, the register read like a who's who of charitable organizations, I found notice from one of these organizations that wanted to award him a plaque for all of his help, I don't mean a little ole piece of wood either, a nice big expensive plaque, that would be given to him by one of the most respected community leaders in the area. The letter had long since expired and the plaque had gone unclaimed, I don't think a plaque was ever the driving force, nor was it needed by this man. In addition to the many charitable organizations were all of his bills, paid in full and on-time each month, usually early actually. Is this such a big deal, maybe not to all but to some, it spoke of commitment to honoring obligations. Here's the little catch to it all though, there weren't many bills, kind of unusual these days
Hardly any bills? how could that be, don't you need all kinds of stuff? Don't you have to have it all now? Isn't it easier to just charge it? What about a mortgage? - No, What about a car payment? - No, Huh? Well, why not, how could one not have all of that? Oh, he must have been a really wealthy guy with lots of money and paid cash for everything? - No
Oddly in assessing the finances you'd come to realize that he could have survived and paid all of his bills with his SSI check alone. Oh, so he'd made tons of money in life and got a huge SSI check? - No His SSI check was no more than average, yet all of his monthly expenses could be paid by it. How & why?
Well for one thing he lived in an older mobile home, that he'd bought used and remodeled very basically, it was in a park with low lot rent. As to his vehicle it was 20 years old or so, he'd bought it new, paid it off and kept it, the occaisional repair and maintainence was by far a better deal than a car payment. There was the purchase of an extravagance though, a 60" big screen TV, although that wasn't purchased for him, he bought that for a club he belonged to for there social room, (ya know older people and their eyes). As for him personally he had 1 tv is his mobile home, it was a 27" which was pretty extravagant for him, but it had to do with the distance he sat from it, and yes, only 1 tv, odd these days huh.
He was part of a veterans organization and had fully retired about 11 months before he died, he'd worked part time for "pocket money" for years, it also helped him keep busy since his wife had passed about 5 years prior. With his free time he wanted to help out at "the club", his veteran pals. So yes he'd served his country as well, and never asked for anyting in return for it. Now retired and having some free time, "The Club" needed a new street sign, this man having free time did the research, called the companies, met with the sales people, and got the "quotes". Of course everything had to be in compliance with new city codes, so when all was said and done there was one option a bit better than the other, but the budget called for "said" amount. This man decided not only to pay the difference, but to just pay for the whole thing - because he could, and he felt he should. This payment was also in the check register. Also in the register? Checks to many folks from "The Club" to help them out if they were struggling, one man in particular told me of how he wouldn't have gotten the home he did had it not been for this man Ed lending him some money at the right time, I saw that in the check book too.
Folks, this may seem like a meaningless story to you, some may have bailed by now, but heres the point. Some of you may be think, wow, this guy had to be bored, why didn't he buy some "stuff", why didn't he treat himself? etc...Well, I can tell you this - he wasn't unhappy, as a matter of fact, he was much happier than most of the people I talk to today who are scared to death of losing it all, yes, losing all their "stuff". Folks, it's just stuff, this man had time for people, he had the resources to help many, he never had more than he needed and he was always willing to help. He didn't proclaim anything religiously, or obligation, he didn't tell others how to live, or what to do. He lived a life of less, yet had so much more because of it. He had furniture in his home that was 40 years old and still in good shape, heck it's "style" had come and gone several times. I will tell you this, in these economic times, as so many of us struggle, I know he wouldn't be if he were still alive, because he could actually make it on what he had coming in, and he had no "interest" bearing debt. Oh how I wish I'd learned more from him, as I look at all the "stuff (crap)" I/we have accumulated, I often think wow, I wish I'd learned that lesson sooner from Ed, my dad.
Thanx for listening/reading, hope this gives some, some insight and direction. True happiness and joy aren't found in "stuff".
posted today 7/18/11 as it would have been dads 78th B-Day!