Ask Jonathots … April 28th, 2016

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I am a “young married,” age 25 and my husband is 26. We both work, have student loans and other debt we’re trying to pay off. We’re working really hard to become financially solvent. It seems like all my friends are in this same boat. So I found myself wondering–what is the connection between money and happiness?

Let me start off by saying that money is a commodity and happiness is a state of contentment.

So it is difficult for me to answer this question unless I know how the commodity of money affects your state of contentment.

For some people it does and for others it does not. So I will answer briefly for both arenas.

{By the way, there are many people who counsel on financial matters and do it much better than I can. Just punch up on the Internet “Balancing Budgets” or “Creating a Family Budget” and you’ll be inundated.}

My answer will be more general: how much is money involved in your state of contentment?

Give yourself a quick test. Two questions:

1. When I have enough money for my needs, do I feel more grown-up and delighted?

2. Do I have an occasion when I haven’t had money and still felt delighted?

And I should probably add a third question:

3. What do I find that delights me most of the time?

If money gives you an aura of well-being, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but you must create a budget that is always achievable, because this will determine your peace of mind.

If money is something you can handle in small or large quantities, with equal affect on your psyche, then you can vary your budget, allowing yourself a week to splurge and a week to go without.

Feeling dependent on money is not a bad thing. After all, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money itself is not only essential, but is quite pleasurable.

Now, keep in mind, though–you have a second person involved. Your husband. His sensations may be completely different.

So the first thing is for both of you to sit down and discuss what money means to you, what you feel about the pressure of bills, and whether you are more comfortable earning more money or trimming your budget.

These will be the two choices.

For magical checks don’t come in the mail, banking institutions don’t suddenly become generous and give you lower rates of interest and no pot of gold has ever been found at the end of the rainbow.

“Will we be more content earning additional money to satisfy our desires, or will we be equally happy with less money, trimming our budget and buying Brand X popcorn instead of Orville Redenbacher?”

There is only one thing to remember in life: if you try to live off somebody else’s experience, you will end up devastated.

  • What does money mean to you?
  • What do you really require to feel content?
  • And are there ways to achieve that magical amount of money by either working harder or cutting the budget?

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Good Golly, Miss Dollie … August 25, 2012

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Two score and twenty years ago, our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be His signature, brought forth on this continent a new lady, conceived in Kansas and dedicated to the proposition that a young woman could grow up in Harlem and as long as it was a township in Central Ohio, might still end up healthy, wealthy and prized.

Her name was Elizabeth. Her papa, not so cleverly, decided to call her “Dollie” because he thought she looked like a doll. She had a swimming pool, horses, nice duds and a credit card from Lazarus, where she raised a debt.

One day she met a fat boy who dreamed of one day being a fat man, with an additional aspiration of becoming an artisan of music, notes, composition and thoughts, with a mind to whirl the change. They were attracted. Some would say it was chemistry, but in this case, it was biology class, sophomore year.

They started to date and developed a lust, which after all, is only three letters away from love. They consummated their collision on the dew-covered grass on the night of the last prom underneath the stars, with her Arabian looking on in bewildered horse-sense.

  • She went to Europe. He went to the mailbox to retrieve no letters.
  • She went to Mexico. He went to Taco Bell to purchase some Nacho Supremes.
  • She went to college in Arizona.  He crawled into a big bird and flew out to disrupt her plans.

For you see, a baby had been conceived on that night of the last prom–a child that needed some immediate attention and was basically, at this point, being ignored. You may or may not know this, but it was against all traditions in the Buckeye nation to allow children to be pre-planted before weddings. So it was difficult to determine what to do next.

They talked, fussed and argued while eating the cheapest pizza available in Tucson. She bravely made a decision to fly back, against her parents’ wishes, and join him in the quest to find out if it was possible to live on nothing and have something.

Four children, one miscarriage, thirty-nine disasters and seven hundred and fifty thousand giggles later, she is still here. Many years ago, lust got bored, packed its bags in disgust and departed. But the love has remained.

Today is her birthday. What do you say about someone who has hung around for the better and the worse–and more frighteningly, has survived the mediocre? What do you say about someone who has shared a bed with you, rolling over in the middle of the night without commenting on who’s responsible for the aroma in the room? What do you say about an individual who has hung in there through criticisms, persecutions, prosperity and perfectly awful nothingness?

I know the normal procedure is to insist that when two people have been together, then ergo, everything has been terrific and no problems of any significance have ever cropped up. Of course, that is not only a lie, but would also be extremely boring. Every relationship is full of mistakes and regrets–because without doubt we would not have faith. Without some anger, we have no reconciliation. And without fear, we never really learn to appreciate the contentment of love.

What do I know about my little Harlem Township girl? She likes to have fun. That comes in handy. A stick-in-the-mud, after all, is just a broken piece of wood positioning itself in a nasty place. She likes to laugh. Fortunately for me, I have learned how to manufacture silly. She’s scared of responsibility. That can be rather endearing if you catch it in time. She’s drawn to her family. Blessedly, she extends that same courtesy to the other human beings she meets. She’s kind of lazy, which, as long as we don’t both do it at the same time, can be a source of delightful motivation.

And she has stayed. There is a lot to be said for remaining. Although people extol the great value of contribution, such blessing is impossible if you’ve already given up on the idea. She didn’t give up on the idea. I’ve been with her for forty-two years. There is no year that has ever been the same. We have been the subject of praise; we have been the target of criticism. But even though they tell you that marriages by teenagers cannot work, especially when they begin with a baby out of wedlock, we are the exception and we ignore the rule.

So I say, “Happy birthday.” You know, maybe that’s a very bad term. Because our real birthday is when we take the morning of our present existence and believe that God’s blessings are fresh daily.

So to you, my dear, I send this greeting. Happy Earth Day. This is your day. So we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Good golly, Miss Dollie. Two score and twenty years. Who ever would’ve thunk we would get this far? Certainly not that suspicious United Methodist minister who reluctantly married us in Sparta, North Carolina.

But he was wrong.

Thank you for staying on for the entire mission–looking for more trips to the moon.

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