Can doing without make you happy?
All my letters [the ones I receive from America] are filled with details of our extravagance. From these accounts, I look back to the time of the war as a time of happiness and enjoyment, when amidst the privation of many things not essential to happiness, we could not run in debt, because nobody would trust us; when we practiced by necessity the maxim of buying nothing but what we had money in our pockets to pay for; a maxim which, of all others, lays the broadest foundation for happiness.
Thomas Jefferson to Mr. Shipwith, 1787, 2844
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Jefferson was in France from 1784-89, and he was dismayed by news from home about the extravagance of some American citizens. This prompted him to look back to the difficult but good-old-days during the Revolutionary War.
Wartime citizens did without many things, but none of them was “essential to happiness.” Since those citizens were not a good credit risk, borrowing to buy more was impossible.
From this experience, Jefferson drew the principle that the “broadest foundation for happiness” was buying nothing more than what one could pay for in cash. He would extend that principle to the nation as well.
Unfortunately, Jefferson didn’t follow his own principle. He spent far more money than he had in his pockets. He was already living partially on borrowed money when he wrote this letter! Although many external and uncontrollable factors affected his finances negatively, some of the responsibility for the mounting debt that continued to the end of his life was his alone. As an old man, he would summarize his life-learning in just 10 points. One of those points was, “Never spend your money before you have it.” This is sound advice but quite often such advice is all well and good but given too late for some as they have already racked up sizeable debt. With a debt settlement, such people can receive financial assistance and debt relief to help them deal with the difficulties surrounding being in debt.
The wisdom of Thomas Jefferson has relevance for your 21st century audience.
Invite him to speak.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739