Do Americans Have Enough?

$$I was at the library the other just wasting my time until the kids sports camps were done for me to pick them up.  While I was there I picked up John C. Bogle’s book “Enough.”  I read random chapters, and poked around the book for about 30 minutes.  I hadn’t read that book before, I think, but I know I must have because some of it was very familiar.  But Bogle does talk a lot about what is “enough” for people.  He did say his bank accounts are “a little short of Awesome!”  He knew his enough, and he knows he never made the grossly huge sums of profit like the other CEO’s, but he always knew “he had enough to do whatever he wanted, but not so much he could afford to do nothing.”  He is also giving his family the same amount to “do whatever they wanted, but so much they could afford to do nothing.”

Keeping up with the Jones’ is a tough thing in American society.  I just got back from an awesome road trip and I have already gotten snarky comments from

I spotted Mr. Jones!

people about it.  “It must be nice.”  “I bet it was terrible all that driving.” Yeah, it had down moments, flat tire outside of Death Valley, but it was an experience that my family will always remember.  By day 23 of the 28 days on the road we did hit our “enough,” and I gave the family the pep talk to finish strong.  With money our “enough” is different.  You don’t get a feeling of fatigue trying to earn it, and improve your net worth.  Most people just plug away a little each day, and in 40 years, surprise!  You look at your accounts and see if you can stop working.  Bogle did say to not look at your account, and just invest religiously over your working career, and you should be fine with compound interest in the end.Some people can never have enough though.  I think it was John D. Rockefeller who said that, “enough is a little bit more.”  With our wealth in America compared to the rest of the world we are just 4% of the world population, and make up 26% of the world’s income.  Americans also are 25% of the world’s consumption of goods and resources.  So, our definition of “enough” is very different from the other 96% of the world.  There are times when you hear of CEO’s getting fired and getting $200 million+ to leave their job in America.  The vast amount of wealth around us is astounding.  Lebron James says that Steph Curry is worth $100 million a year and bashed the NBA salary cap.  The numbers thrown around in the media distorts real life numbers for Americans.  Hearing these absurdly large salaries in the media on a weekly basis makes a hard working plumber, who make $75,000 a year, feel poor, or a teacher making $65,000 a year think they are a failure.

Bogle said, for most Americans that, “enough is $1 more than you need.”  I loved that quote, because it is so simple and it is all truth.  If you can retire with $400,000 in the bank and keep your bills low, then you have “enough.”  If every month your checking account still has $1 in it, after everything is paid then you had “enough.”  If you go to bed with a roof over your head, food in your belly, and a feeling of safety, then you have “enough.”

Bailouts?  Yes, Please.

In that last example I used there are many Americans who can’t say that.  That means that those with more than enough should be helping get the rest of America up to enough.  I do believe if we all help our neighbors, then we wouldn’t need government help, and we could all have lower taxes, better infrastructure, better education, and other important things that benefit society.  We just need to make America a friendlier place again, and help one another more. (Giving to others)

Bogle also talked about how to get “enough” and one way is to be a part of the investor class.  He talked about how in America we have the investor class and the thrifty class.  The investor class uses the markets over time to make his “enough.”  The thrifty class lowers their lifestyle, so that their meager salaries are stretching to make it “enough.”  You have a group saying make more money, and another group saying cut expenses to get to “enough.”  In America it seems these two classes collide.  Some people just live “poor,” save, and invest nothing, while the other group just consistently invests over time, and lives a better quality of life making more money.  In the end of a 40 year working careering the investor class comes out ahead monetarily, but they both end up with “enough,” if they play their version correctly.

I like the idea of combining the two, and realizing that frugal living and investing allow your 40 year work career to be drastically reduced, and your “enough” is in great shape.  If you are saving 90% of you salary from thriftiness and investing, then your “enough” comes much sooner.  This is the FIRE group (Financially Independent, Retire Early).  Americans from both classes get mad, or inspired, when they hear of these people retiring at age 30, and traveling the world living on $50 a day, from saving and investing their $700,000.  Either way you have to accept that they found their “enough” in life.  These people just found it sooner to fund the rest of their lives.

We all have our “enough” in life.  What would it take for you to quit your job right now?  How much do you need in your bank account to feel safe?  My “enough” keeps moving around.  I thought it would be $1 million dollars, but now I like the idea of saying multi millionaire from teaching.  So maybe I’m a typical American and “enough” is never enough.  But right now with a family, and all the fun I’m having living my life, I know I haven’t reach my “enough,” but I know I will feel it when it comes.

What is your enough?  Let me know in the comments below.





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  1. My enough is 3 million. If we have 3 million (preferably liquid but if not it’s OK too xD) – i’m gone! I’m going to Mexico and none of yall will ever see me again.


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