I can’t talk about the attitudes of the typical European or Australian, because I am not from those places. I have a good understanding of the mentality of the average American, though, because I grew up there and lived there until I was 38 years old, except for a 2 year stint as a child when we lived in South Africa. A lot of what makes Americans tick is responsible for the financial situation that the country is in, and indeed the world. I suspect that people from other 1st World Nations are the same, but I won’t say that, because as I said, I don’t have first hand knowledge of their psyche.
Probably in the past 40 to 50 years, something that has become typically American is the whole idea of “keeping up with the Jones’” if you know what I mean. If you don’t understand what I am talking about, I am saying that if a family down the street buys a new car, you have to go buy a new car, and a nicer one than they did. You always have to keep up with the other families, even if it means pushing yourself into heavy debt, and ultimately to poverty.
Now, keep in mind, I am not saying that all Americans are like this, but it has become all too typical. There are Americans who are more mature with their financial situation, so don’t think that I am lumping all Americans together (I am American myself after all!).
I bring this up today, because we are at a point, financially, that people are going to need to get over this. In the last 6 or 8 months, the world has changed. Some people can still afford to set the trend on things like houses, cars and such, but many can’t. For those who can still fit these things in their budget, they need to be careful, though. I mean, they have money today, what about in a year? Situations have turned around dramatically quickly recently. People can lose fortunes overnight if they are not careful. Just ask those who thought they were putting money away safely when they sent it to Bernard Madoff, and others who are still being called out of the woodwork.
This thought came to me about a month ago when Feyma and I were talking about houses. I am not criticizing Feyma when I say that she has always enjoyed having a very nice house. She likes the best. I’ve been like that too. Last month when we were talking, Feyma told me that she “didn’t need that anymore” That’s where I am too, although I think that I was there a little before Feyma got there, but I can’t be certain.
One of the great things about living in the Philippines is that even if we go with a house (or some other thing in our life) that is not the best house, we can still have a nice house and count our blessings that it is very nice. If somebody moves in down the street and builds a mansion, hey, no biggie. I am happy for them. I just don’t need it.
At this point, when the world is in poor financial shape, I think it is time for all of us to re-evaluate what is important in our lives. Is having the latest model of car more important, or enjoying your family and being secure with your finances? For me, the choice is obvious.