After an evening of watching television commercials one might easily be convinced that the American dream is to be in debt.
"That's a little dramatic don't you think?" Think again.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston there are 156 Million credit card holders in the United States and 576.4 Million open credit cards. That is 3.5 credit cards per person with an average balance of $3,000 per card. As of March 2010 the total U.S. revolving debt, 98% of which is made up of credit cards was $852.6 Billion dollars and total U.S. consumer debt was $2.42 trillion. That's just the credit cards. That leaves unstated mortgages and vehicle loans.
When is enough enough?
The average American has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 cars and 1 big problem. We want, we buy, we charge, we consume. We end up in debt, stressed out, working more overtime, sacrificing our families because we have bills to pay. We miss watching our kids grow up and lose precious time with them to make sure we have the shiniest metal in the driveway and the most square feet in the best of neighborhoods and we call it all living the dream. We don't know when enough is enough.
Famed Chicago architect Mies Van Der Rohe made famous the dictum "Less is more." That may be true of the skyscrapers downtown but as far as the suburbs are concerned, more is better.
There must be a place in our lives where the contentment of enough takes over. A moment where we can step back and realize we have been blessed. Enough is enough.
I was particularly stressed some time ago over an amount of money that I needed to spend, did not want to spend and did not have to spend. I spent a day or two worrying about it and being generally irritable. Then I started to look around and realized just how blessed we were.
My wife and I have everything we need. I could have never dreamed of all the ways we've been blessed and had our needs met. We have a simple and comfortable home, two dependable vehicles and 2 beautiful children. We have friends whose company we enjoy and loved ones we are blessed to live near. For us, it's enough.
Would we like more? Sure. If someone gave us a Cadillac Escalade, we'd take it!
Contentment is not synonymous with stagnation. Just because we are content does not mean I would not like a newer car, a more spacious home or more money in the bank. It does not mean we've given up trying or have decided to be proud of our poverty.
Our contentment means I will not sacrifice what really matters for those things that are just things. We will try to acquire what we need and what we would like as we are able. Until then, we can be satisfied and content in the blessings we enjoy all around us.
We have enough, and enough is enough.
*source for credit statistics: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-industry-facts-personal-debt-statistics-1276.php