Here is an article I read recently that was written by Paramhansa Yogananda – of Autobiography of a Yogi fame – during the Great Depression in the US.
Not surprisingly, the principles laid out by Yogananda remain relevant even today, 80+ years after he wrote about them…and that’s why I am sharing them with you.
You see, the old rules of life or money never change and they only become tough on you when you ignore them. Like these golden rules laid out by Yogananda (the emphasis is mine), which if you continue to ignore, would make your life extremely tough.
Over to Yogananda…
Most people spend thirty dollars a week when their income is only twenty. The extra ten dollars is acquired by borrowing, or by buying with promises to pay in the future, on installment plans, and such systems. You must not always feel that you have to “keep up with the Joneses.”
To try to own more than your purse will allow is to live in constant mental worry, and under such conditions happiness, like a will-o’-the-wisp, has to be chased foolishly all over the boggy surface of bottomless desires.
To spend more than you earn is to live in perpetual slavery. To spend more now in the hope of making more later on is the harbinger of all material suffering.
An expensive car, together with a good dress-suit, and a beautiful home are very pleasant to have, but the loss of your car because you cannot meet the so-soon-recurring installments due; foreclosure of the mortgage on your home, built and paid for by many years of labor and saving; the publicity, dishonor, and heavy heart that comes after such occurrences—all these are very unpleasant.
Is it not better to have an inexpensive car all paid for, a cozy cottage, a low-priced, clean suit, and a comfortable bank account than to have a big outward show with only borrowed money in your pocket?
Remember that along with the art of money-making it is well to learn the art of money-saving, for a large income is of no lasting good to you if it creates only habits of luxury and no reserve fund.
Think for a moment. If you should get sick suddenly, how would you continue your luxurious habits, without the usual income, if you have no savings put away?
It is a bad thing to cultivate luxurious habits if you have only a small income. Is it not better to live simply and frugally and grow rich in reality?
You should use one-fourth of your income on plain living, save three-fourths, and be at ease in your mind with a feeling of future security. Keep what you earn legitimately, and don’t gamble or lose it in trying to “get rich quick.”
The present depression has taught you to buy lower-priced things, to save for a “rainy day” and not to spend on mere material comforts more than you are earning.
Happiness can be had by the exercise of self-control, by cultivating habits of plain living and high thinking, by spending less even though earning more.
Make an effort to earn more so that you can be the means of helping others to help themselves, for one of the unwritten laws decrees that he who helps others to abundance and happiness, always will be helped in return by them, and he will become more and more prosperous and happy himself.
This is a law of happiness which cannot be broken.
The crux of Yogananda’s thoughts on money and happiness that I get from this article is – Stop keeping up with the Joneses, for they are broke which you should not aim to be.
You shouldn’t worry about what other people have. It’s your money, so spend it wisely.
Finally, to reiterate the legendary investor Warren Buffett – “If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.”
Earn it, then save it, so that you can give it.
That will be your way to financial nirvana.
About the Author: Vishal is the Chief Tribesman at Safal Niveshak, where he works with small investors to help them become smart, independent, and successful in their investing and personal finance decisions.