dollar signI was fantasizing the other day about winning the lottery. Actually, I never buy lottery tickets since the odds are against me and thus it seems like a waste of money. Still, I started thinking of all the non-profit organizations I belong to and volunteer activities that I’m involved with. All of them could use an infusion of money. I could do a lot of good if I came into some sudden cash.

BUT, then I started thinking about the effort I’ve put into writing some grants for those organizations and how I hate to do fundraising. I started to think of how a conscientious person with excess income can carry quite a burden. I wouldn’t turn down a monetary windfall but following are 9 advantages that occurred to me from living on an adequate but modest income:

  1. Assuming that you already set aside funds (perhaps 10%) to support causes you are committed to, declining all those sincere but inconvenient telephone solicitors who call – mostly at dinner time – can be done guilt free.
  2. It makes signing online petitions easier since the inevitable request for a donation which accompanies them can be ignored.
  3. It inoculates against the temptation to buy trendy or status clothes or gadgets which will probably go out of style soon anyway.
  4. The bar for a treat is low, so simple pleasures (a meal out, a bubble bath, a special desert) can delight.
  5. Taxes are relatively easy.
  6. Friendships are not likely to be contaminated by one-up-man ship or the ability to give favors.
  7. Getting a bargain can bring great pleasure.
  8. Life is less complicated since there is less to protect, clutter, and clean.
  9. One doesn’t have to carry the burden of being a conscientious philanthropist weighing the relative merits of many good causes seeking your donation. (Although I’m glad that some people are willing to do this.)

Of course all of this is predicated on having enough, but not too much. This is a thorny and complicated decision for a person or family to make. Some people don’t have a choice. Circumstances can change and income can be lost. Genuine needs can increase so what once was enough no longer covers medical bills or a crisis. Assuming, however, that one is living at that squishy level of “enough but not too much” there is still another challenge – how to live with moral humility and avoid the smug factor?

How do you stay balanced? How much is enough?