How Rich Should I Get?

Submitted by ARL contributor M. Ragazzo

I find it exciting to get by on an amount of money that is so small it baffles people.  I get a kick out of driving a car that cost me exactly $100.  My electric bill is $35 a month.  I built my own house for the cost of the materials.  I have no cable, no Satellite TV and no cell phone (but I do have internet.)  When I buy food I go for the highest “calorie-to-dollar” ratio. 

But living cheaply is hard work.  And I’m beginning to wonder if it is irresponsible.  

How can that be?  How can it be irresponsible to consume less and be self-sufficient?  I will tell you about my misgivings.  They mainly have to do with time. 

I spend a lot of time saving money.  Some of that time is well spent.  I don’t at all regret building my own house, for instance.  Not only because my savings were great, but because building one’s own house is a creative work that is rewarding in itself.  It was good for my soul and will provide shelter for my family for many years to come. 

The same goes for firewood.  Chopping firewood keeps me in shape and makes me feel good, and saves me a little money.  The same goes for cooking from raw ingredients, as opposed to packaged dinners, or eating out.  Cooking with raw ingredients is something worth doing even if it doesn’t save money (but I’m sure glad it does.)  But there is only so much I can do. 

Part of me would love to get my living expenses down to $0.  Part of me wants to be my own blacksmith, locksmith, tailor, mechanic, professor, dairy farmer, vegetable grower, beer supplier, meteorologist etc. 

But part of me doesn’t.  Part of me says, “Is it right to spend precious, precious time doing things you are not good at and will never be good at, to save money?  Perhaps you should be spending some money to save time.  Perhaps, you should even think about making some money.” 

Oh. 

It is fun to get by on an amount of money that is so small it baffles people.  There is great freedom in being able to do with less.  But what good things are not happening because I am always doing with less?

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