Do you know what it really means to “afford” something? In the old days, most of our ancestors only had to worry about affording food on the table and a roof over their heads… maybe also a visit from the local medicine man. They either had the money for those things… or they didn’t. There was no gray area of whether or not something was affordable.
In today’s society, affording something seems like a completely subjective concept. With a dizzying array of worldly possessions that are beckoning to beautify and entertain us, and a multitude of ways to pay for them, we seem to be increasingly losing touch with what we can really afford.
If you pay for something with a high-interest credit card, are you affording it? What if you paid cash but had to empty out your savings account to do it – did you afford it then? I often see teenagers with gadgets that probably cost them their entire monthly paycheck. Or people who drive beat-up 20-year-old cars, but buy a $6 Starbucks latte every morning and own a shiny new big-screen TV. There are people who sacrifice quality of life to retirement savings, only to grow too old and tired to truly enjoy any of it. On the other extreme, there are people who spend freely and live for the moment, only to find themselves broke in their old age, when their need is greatest.
In the end all it really comes down to is 1) how badly do I want this and 2) what am I willing to give up or risk in its place. It is possibly the greatest balancing act of our generation. Do you find that in your everyday life, “affording” something often just means “wanting it bad enough”?