Updated insider information by Chellie Campbell, author of “The Wealthy Spirit: Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction”
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”—Charles Dickens
Notice that you can add any amount of money to this formula and the result is the same. If you make a million dollars a year but spend $1.2 million, you’re in just as much misery as the person who makes $30,000 and spends $32,000.
The problem is over-spending. Human beings are basically just desire machines. It sometimes seems we can’t get enough of anything. I know it’s impossible for me to go shopping in the mall without seeing at least $10,000 worth of stuff I’d like to buy. It’s amazing how fashion designers are always able to create more beautiful, fascinating clothes that I want. It doesn’t matter how much I already have in my closet, there’s always a new cashmere sweater or tweed skirt or cut-velvet scarf that attracts my eye. The sporty gold Lexus I’m driving is great, but, hey, did you see that new Jaguar over there? It’s impossible for me to visit a bookstore without leaving with more books I just have to read….
One of the worst cases of spending bulimia I ever saw was illustrated in an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled The Ultimate Material Girl. It was the story of an accounts payable clerk who embezzled $1.5 million from the manufacturing company for which she worked. Distraught over the troubled relationship she had with her daughter, she stole in order to keep pace with her daughter’s spending. Trying to buy her daughter’s love, she bought her a Mercedes, a Porsche, a Saab, and a Jeep Cherokee. The daughter’s closets were filled with designer fashions, $400 shoes, Louis Vuitton luggage, receipts for a $10,000 birthday party and $113,000 in home decorating services. She shopped every day. As long as the mother stole only $10,000 a month, her theft went undetected. But when the daughter tried to cash a check for $45,000, the bank manager got suspicious, and the jig was up.
The hole these people felt was not in their wallet but in their souls. It could never be filled with material goods. Surrounded by wealth, they were miserable. At some point, you have to decide that whatever you have is enough, and that what you will spend is only whatever is on your budget to spend, and no more. Then look for life’s riches in friendships, helping others, being of service, and appreciating all the good things the world offers that are free to us all.
Live within your means. Love above your means. And both will increase.