The problems of being rich

by Cathy Rae Smith
Co-founder of Culture Magazine

There are plenty of news stories about our down-turned economy. Everyone knows someone who has lost a job during this time. A friend of mine that had worked at the same small advertising agency nearly a quarter century just saw the doors close to the company at the end of 2008. Now is the time to focus on the glass half full. Three of us met at my place last weekend to brainstorm new ideas for business and increased prosperity. The other friend has been working freelance for about a decade. We all share the experience of having worked in advertising agencies in our past.

I was rather surprised to hear the comment made to me by the freelance friend, who is the only one of the three of us that is married. She said, “You live like you are rich!” She was referencing my wardrobe, furnishings and occasional trips abroad.

It took me by surprise as I have been living on a tight budget for quite a while once I transitioned from the corporate world. However, much of how one lives is attitude. Why not have the nice things around you? Just watch for what you love at the thrift stores, consignment shops, estate sales, and yard sales. I have things I love that have been accumulated over the years. What has been spent via thrifty treasure hunting collectively costs less than buying something mediocre at full price. Why not drink your ice water from crystal stemware? I once bought unstrung Akoya cultured pearls, and then learned how to string pearls properly. Why not wear pearls with that little black dress and blue jeans? Some years ago I remember reading a book on how to live richly. The author said she drove a car, one fully paid for, until the wheels nearly fell off. My car is an older one, paid off years ago, but a sports car that I love. I still hear comments about it from admiring young guys when I pop in to the parts store for new wiper blades or something. Last summer a friend came over and we ate in the back yard under a garden umbrella off of Limoges china. She recently mentioned how memorable that was – juice, yogurt and toast. I don’t go out to eat that often. I don’t hit the local coffee shop on a daily basis. I go to the library often, getting books, DVDs and CDs at no cost. I don’t feel deprived. I feel enthused to think about the next great trip I will be taking to an exotic location. I think it is important to stimulate the economy and give back. I just do what I can on my budget. It is rewarding to be involved with charitable causes, and it costs time, which doesn’t impact the budget.

The bottom line is that attitude is a huge determinant on how you live. It typically dictates your choices. Whatever makes you happy, you can choose for yourself. Walks in the beautiful nature areas we have in abundance are free. You deserve the best, so focus on what makes your heart sing and do that. We don’t need an abundance of stuff, simply quality over quantity. We simply need to treat ourselves to the best that we can be and the best that we can achieve in life. That is what I consider living a rich life.

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