Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Parable of You and Me

JD at Get Rich Slowly has a fascinating parable of human nature. The story centers around Gillian, a friend who came to him seeking financial advice. She says,

“Tom and I are working all the time, but we’re always broke. He just wrecked the car, but we don’t have money to get it repaired. We’ll have to use the credit cards again. We don’t have any other choice. There’s never anything left at the end of the month,” she said. “I need some help budgeting so that we don’t keep having this problem.”

JD probes into where their money goes each month and learns the root cause of the problem and discovers he can't help them. Gillian spends $200 per month for a house keeper. When JD suggests that is an easy way to save some money she responds, "I don’t want to clean the house. It’s too much work."

He asks if they both really need cell phones. Gillian states, “I don’t know what I’d do without one. And Tom needs one for work. I need to be able to reach him.”

Finally he inquires about their cable bill. Gillian responds, “Oh, we can’t get rid of cable we watch TV all the time.”

Toward the end, Gillian confesses she doesn't have time for a garden, something JD prioritizes and is one of his ways of living frugally. She doesn't take the time to clean her own house because "it is too much work." She won't get rid of her cell phone because she doesn't know what she'd do without it. And cutting out cable is out of the question because they "watch TV all the time."

It is easy to pick on Gillian and see how ridiculous her situation and reasoning are. Yet I bet that we all have our own idiosyncrasies and self contradicting positions. This is bigger than budgeting and spending money. We all have our stubborn tendencies, we all justify things that are indefensible and irrational. We all feel entitled to some things that we are not entitled to. We all believe we are right and are unwilling to sacrifice those things that have become idols to ourselves. It is articles like these that should challenge us all to self examination.

I encourage you to read the whole article.

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