Thursday, December 30, 2010
We Don't Want More Money
My aunt and uncle told my wife and me that they were putting us in their will. In the unfortunate case of their deaths, we’d get their entire estate.
“You guys will be set for life,” my uncle said.
We’d inherit three paid-off vehicles, enough savings to retire and a house that could fit three of our houses in the living room. Yes, we’d be set. But then again, we’d be miserable.
If my wife and I received such a fortune, we’d put it all into savings and invest. We’re responsible people, not materialistic. But at a certain point, we’d go mad for not having any fun with the money. You can’t take it with you.
So maybe we’d get a boat. It’d just be one boat, though. And a matching truck, too. It’s not that we’d want the matching truck. We’re not materialistic. But we’d need the truck to tow the boat. Matching it wouldn’t be an extra cost.
Then we’d get the three-car garage. Not that we’d want the three-car garage. We’re not materialistic. But we’d need the three-car garage to store the boat and the truck because the homeowners association wouldn’t allow the boat to sit in the street. We’d also need life jackets, boat wear, water skis . . . maybe one of those Evel Knievel ski jumps. And another truck and trailer to tow the ski jump.
One day we’d discover our savings is gone and our debts have doubled, and my wife and I would need second jobs. We’d be working more than breathing, our 6-year-old son would think the faculty at his school and at day care are his parents, and our boat would have two years of spider webs on the wheels. We’d be miserably in debt.
Today I’m already miserably in debt without all that capital my aunt and uncle are offering. So why do we need it? We don’t want it. So we’ll just have to give it away when the time comes, we thought.
Following a tragic accident I can’t bare to recall, my aunt and uncle’s estate became ours. And, despite our previous philosophy to give it away, my wife and I collected with the condition that we wouldn’t give in to any materialistic whims, even though we’re not materialistic -- we’re responsible people.
So we sold my aunt and uncle’s vehicles and house, and with the earnings and their savings we paid off our bills, our student loans and all the debts we owed. Life became comfortable. And then it got even better.
No longer did I spend entire weekends ruining things around the house in the name of “repair.” I could afford handymen to do the jobs correctly.
After long days of work, my family got to do what every other family across the country gets to do -- we went out for dinner.
My wife and I introduced our son to culture. We traveled, and not just on camping trips to the backyard.
Then, what I feared would happen, happened: Life became great thanks to money! My wife and I never argued about money anymore. We had time to spend together as a family. We could enroll our kid in different activities and sports.
None of this was materialistic. It was so we could raise a well-rounded child. Even the science lab we added on to our home was so our son could become more cultivated.
I recently took a day off work to open up the backyard so a crew could dig out a pool (our son was getting serious about swimming), and I caught the water company trying to shut off our water. It seems my wife and I forgot to pay the bill. Evidently, we also forgot to read our mail -- we’d received repeated notices that our water would be shut off as well as our phone, our gas and our Internet if we didn’t pay up.
“But we have automatic withdrawal,” my wife told me.
“Oh,” I said. “Then it must be a computer error.” And it was. The bank’s computer kept saying we had no money in our account.
And just like that, we were miserably in debt.
Luckily, I woke up. It was all a miserable nightmare. And to our good fortune, my aunt and uncle were alive and healthy. We still had water running through our pipes. The telephone had a dial tone. The gas was turned on. Our Internet was still connected. And we still had money in the bank -- all $10.27 of it.