I confess, whenever I hear someone say, “The best things in life are free”…it kind of gets under my skin. I understand why they’re saying it, of course, but I think it undermines a whole lot of other philosophies on life and money.
My perspective on money has changed greatly over the years. I’ve always been naturally inclined to be thrifty…spending my high school years garage sale and second-hand shopping, rather than perusing the mall racks. In college and early married life, I continued that thriftiness.
When we started our business, we experienced debt for the first time in our lives. We didn’t eat out, we didn’t go on unnecessary trips, we didn’t buy much, and we tried to be very frugal, and we were proud of it.
I remember my Mom once complimenting me on my frugality, and I admitted to her that I felt it was also a flaw…after all, one can be just as proud to SAVE money, as you can be to SPEND money.
In my opinion, both have their faults—both are an obsession with money. The person who flaunts their money and spends it frivolously is just as obsessed with money as the person who unnecessarily counts each penny and flaunts their thriftiness.
And don’t get in a huff-puff…I’m not talking about those thrifty people who really HAVE to count every penny for their survival…I’m talking about the person who has the means to provide for their comforts, but has an unnatural obsession with cutting corners and costs, simply because they can and feel that they should…because they believe that spending money on some things would be wasteful. I’m talking about wasting too much energy on money thoughts—in general.
As our financial situation has changed, we’ve had the means to do a lot more things than we used to. I could still keep the same attitude and still not eat out, travel, or do sometimes expensive adventures…but to what end? What would that earn me?
Money is a tool.
Money is a gift.
It can be used to create amazing learning opportunities and memorable experiences for your family, as well as bless the lives of others when you are generous with it. It can be used to learn new skills, develop talents, or become educated. To hoard money in the name of thriftiness, and not use it as a tool to seek opportunities and experiences, is a disservice to mankind.
Yes–it’s awesome to do free stuff.
Yes, it’s fantastic to have family nights at home or in the park.
But, it’s also awesome to do that crazy expensive trip and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with those you love! It’s also great to take music lessons and develop a hard-earned talent. It’s well-worth the time to learn a team sport and experience the teamwork and physical challenges and triumphs that come with it.
These things aren’t free.
Just as an example…when I was a pre-teen my family went on a unique vacation to the border waters of Canada. Two adults and five kids ranging from age 8 to 17. We were outfitted with canoes, crazy heavy backpacks of food and supplies, and sent off on our way with ponchos, paddles, and a map. For three days we rowed, set up camp, cooked food over a fire and battled storms until we reached our destination. We had to climb trees to suspend our backpacks between trees to prevent bears from discovering our food. We washed dishes in the lake, fought (sorry Mom & Dad), and made friends. We laughed for hours about the risk of hitting a single pole in a giant lake—and then laughed harder when we did, indeed, unintentionally hit it.
Looking back, I’m sure the trip couldn’t have been cheap for my parents—but that was never discussed with us children.
However, what has been discussed is that that family vacation will forever provide a flood of memories, emotions, and a shared bond that brings our family closer.
Experiences are what tie people together.
The best things in life aren’t free.
The best things in life are moments.
And sometimes, making moments isn’t free. Creating time and opportunities for moments takes sacrifice—sometimes you must give up your time for work or even recreation. To make moments you must step away the billions of distractions that fill your day.
Free, or not free—it’s all irrelevant!
The best things in life are the moments you look at your children in total admiration and love, and recognize what a divine gift they are.
They’re the moments you have your world opened to a multitude of new experiences and appreciation for life.
They’re the moments you share with others and form a bond of shared memories.
They’re the moments where you feel Heaven embrace you, and understand your true potential as a Child of God.
Yes, the best things in life are the moments that you allow to take your breath away.