If you had asked me about living a simple, frugal-centric lifestyle on the day of our wedding, I may have laughed a little bit.
But sitting on the tail end of our first year of marriage, I feel richer than ever.
During our article, Expenses Exposed, we talked a little bit about our lifestyle and why we’re completely content living on $10,000 per year.
$10,000 doesn’t sound like much, but we love our lifestyle and don’t plan to succumb to lifestyle inflation any time soon. We’re happy to sit in our little mobile home, drinking organic coffee we got on sale, and taking our green ’96 Saturn around town to scour for deals.
Along with a fair portion of price matched meals and thrift store finds, our minimalist lifestyle is full of contentedness. I’ve written about contentedness before, but it’s such a good lesson, that I wanted to share it with you again today in the form of a story.
My favorite story about contentedness hangs on the wall at Jimmy John’s, and it’s titled, How Much is Enough?
How Much is Enough?
“An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.
The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.” The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos: I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The investment banker scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”
Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
I would have loved to see the look on the fisherman’s face. Most likely he was dumbfounded and walked away shaking his head and thinking the well-educated man had no sense at all. I mean, in what world does it make sense to be consumed with work for 20 years in an attempt to make tons of money, only to return to the previous simplistic lifestyle that brings satisfaction and a sense of peace?
What the banker failed to understand is that the fisherman was already living a fulfilling life. He didn’t need a lifestyle upgrade, or a house upgrade, or a bigger car, or more fish on the line. He was perfectly content in his current situation. What a beautiful thing.
The key line of this story is when the fisherman said, “I have a full and busy life, senor.”
I hope you are able to confidently say, with a heart overflowing with contentedness, that you have a full and busy life. Not one that is focused on working 16 hour days to buy a bunch of crap that you don’t need.
If you would, please take some time to share with us how much you love your lifestyle or why you think we’re nuts. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.