Many years ago my cousin lived just a few doors away from us and as a result we visited each other quite often. One of the holidays (New Year’s Day) we were invited to spend the day with them.

They wanted to share with us what it was to see color television versus just black and white. What we saw was how much more entertaining television could be watching it in color versus black and white. The colors were so bright and beautiful and made the costumes so much more entertaining to watch. By the time the day was over and we were back home, all I could hear from my wife and children was the question:  “When are we going to get such a marvelous television set?”

Now you have to think back as this was in the mid-sixties when salaries not high, and as was the case in most families – we were both young and struggling to make ends meet and had our share of debt. It is hard to tell your children (both under ten at the time) that you cannot afford such a luxury.

My wife and I decided that due to our financial situation we would have to wait until such time as we had the actual cash to purchase the television and I remember that the cost would be $500 which at the time was quite a bit of money. How naïve of me!

Deprive us of purchasing a color television – my children must have thought me to be a monster. But deprive us I did – for one whole year. However, at the end of the year, we still did not have the cash necessary to purchase the television set without going into debt. So I did what most of us do when we cannot wait for something – we whipped out our trusty little plastic card and went further into debt.

Today, we try not to deprive ourselves of anything that we truly need – with but one slight change in our past strategy. That change is that if we do use our credit card – we only do it (charge something) when we know that upon receipt of the bill, we can and will pay the entire amount due. I refuse to pay the high interest charges that become applicable when the full balance is not paid upon receipt of the invoice.

So – to deprive or not to deprive – that is the question? In my humble opinion, the answer to that question boils down to two simple strategies or rules of thought we must follow:

(1)    Wants versus needs and

(2)    Having and following a good budget

Try not to deprive yourself of what you need in life but be sure to budget for it as well.

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