Got Enough?

David Gartland

I LIVE IN CENTRAL New Jersey. Within walking distance of my house are some McMansions—huge homes clustered together in new developments. I look at them and think, “Who cleans these things?”

I live in a three-bedroom ranch-style house with an unfinished basement and a two-car garage. My garage is filled with two cars and my tools. The basement is filled with my wife’s stuff. We bought the house when my wife was pregnant. Thirty-three years later, there are three people living in the house. It was big enough 33 years ago and it’s still big enough today. Why would I want more?

My neighborhood gets noisy during the week, especially in the summer months, because all my neighbors have a landscaping service to mow their lawns. Now, if they all hired the same service, the noise would be limited to a single day. But because all use different lawn services, the landscapers come on different days of the week. The result is that the roar of these high-powered grass-cutting hot rods fills my world five days a week. Meanwhile, I mow my lawn with my self-propelled Honda lawn mower.

Every morning, I begin my day with a coffee mug filled with black coffee and no sugar, which I raise up and say, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Help me to be glad.” Then I list those things that occurred the day before that I’m grateful for. Basically, I count my blessings.

This practice should not be new to anyone. “Count your blessings” is something we’ve all been told over the years. But how many of us do it?

Money has always been important to me, and I saved diligently throughout my life. As a result, I have money “in the bank.” Is it enough? If I died tomorrow, yes. If I live to 100, I’m not sure.

Now that I’m retired, I have embraced the concept of enough. I look at what I have and what I’ve done. I then compare that to what I wanted to have and to do, and I believe it’s enough. I don’t have a lot, but I do have stuff.

Besides money, the one area of accumulation I’ve pursued since I was 18 years old was Craftsman hand tools. I’ve been working on cars since I was 16 years old. I have no business working on cars because I’m not very good. Still, I continued down this path. To make up for my lack of skill, I would buy the next “magical tool” for my tool box, thinking it would suddenly make me a master mechanic. It never did.

The beauty of this focus is I have enough Craftsman tools. I don’t have every tool. But all in all, I seem to have the tools necessary to fix whatever needs fixing with the car or around the house. It’s a great feeling.

I believe every one of us has our own “enough.” It doesn’t mean you can’t have more. But do you need more? Until you can identify what your enough is, how will you know when to stop accumulating and to stop pursuing? Arguably, money is something we can never have enough of. But until you decide that what you have is enough, how will you ever be satisfied?

How would you define “enough”? Offer your thoughts in HumbleDollar’s Voices section.

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