“When self-worth derives from possessions, we’re in trouble. Of course, the whole object of advertising is to make us dissatisfied with our circumstances. If we just buy that product or service, suddenly our lives will be better. Unless we buy, we’re missing out on a life worth living. This “keeping up with the Joneses” creates a spending treadmill that never satisfies and like an addiction, it certainly impoverishes.” (Joel Salatin, “Your Successful Farm Business”, page 37)
I love Joel’s latest book, Your Successful Farm Business. I have read it twice now, and still find myself going back and re-reading different chapters. The above quote can be found in the chapter titled “Living Frugally.” As I read over that chapter again, I can’t help but think of how much I struggle with the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses” and by “Joneses,” I mean other farms. For the record, we don’t struggle one bit with trying to keep up with the average American “Joneses” with the new car and truck, eight-foot-wide flat screen TVs, Disney trips and so on. Our minivan is 12 years old with a fallen headliner, our farm truck is 18 years old and our entertainment budget is $0.
Our farm store is simply a shed behind our house that we started converting to a store with only one freezer that we bought new. A friend gave us the yellow, upright freezer, and the other refrigerator and freezer we bought used for less than $100 each. We don’t have the nice glass-front freezers yet because we can’t afford them. I wish it was nicer and more welcoming, but it’s what we have for now. I guess it’s what’s inside the freezers and the shed/store that counts, and what you will find inside are simply the highest quality pasture-raised meats and friendly customer service. Transparency is our trademark.
So we try to avoid that “spending treadmill” that never satisfies anyway. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11). Our possessions do not define us, our character does.