There are so many things for us to be thankful for. We often take them for granted except for the week of Thanksgiving and when we have to live without them for even the shortest amount of time. In this post, I list one thing I'm thankful for each year of life. I have 31 things I'm especially thankful for.
Oh yeah, I'll let you guess my age at the end of this post!
1. A Nuclear Family
With a divorce rate north of 50%, too many children have never known what it's like to live in an intact house. My parents and my wife's parents are still married. While that's good for us, it's sad we are in the minority compared to most of our classmates and coworkers who might have three or four different Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners because each parent lives in a different house.
Marriage is one of the best solutions to achieve financial security. An intact family also means children have both loving parents under the same roof that can be their role model, help them through life's challenges, and bring a sense of stability.
2. Clean Drinking Water
Roughly 10% of the world population doesn't have access to clean drinking water. In America, we can even drink it from our kitchen sink without worrying about a parasite. Our definition of dirty water is an excessive amount of lead, pesticide and fertilizer residue, and the presence of heavy metals that we can (thankfully) filter out.
3. Indoor Plumbing
I'm so glad I don't have to use the outhouse or chamber pots. Did you know that in 1920, only 1% of houses only had electricity and running water? Even in 1940, 1/3 of houses lacked a flush toilet, yet we were inventing the atomic bomb and fighting a world war in Europe and the Pacific at the same time.
Myself, my wife, and our two children are all healthy. Besides the occasional stomach bug or cold, we don't have many ailments. I like to think that health is more valuable than riches. It doesn't matter how much money you have in the bank, you're not strong enough to enjoy it.
5. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
As long as I don't threaten to physically harm another person, even you don't agree with it, I can speak my mind without repercussion.
You can do the same!
This liberty is what helps make America great.
We all have the following freedoms that most of the world can only dream of:
- Freedom of Worship
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedom of Assembly
- Freedom of the Press
So, let's stay civil as we debate (or protest) the many aspects of life and culture. Fair enough?
6. Air Conditioning
So we could technically live without the 20th-century inventions of air conditioning, but they make life a lot more pleasant. Roughly 50% of homes had air conditioning in 1970 compared to 90+% today. When we built our house in 2016, our local building codes required our house to have a whole house cooling system.
I remember my parents saying that neither of them had air conditioning as children. Sure, they lived in Wisconsin where the summers are a little cooler, but heat and humidity are relative. Both sets of my grandparents are still living and they've had central air my entire life (30+ years) when they had it installed in the early to mid-1980s.
7. A Warm House
An insulated house is another modern marvel as most of your heat remains indoors instead of escaping to the outside.
8. Mild Winters
Living in East Tennessee, our definition of a hard winter is getting more than eight inches of snow. Having lived in the Midwest as a child, I don't miss the long, cold winters and continually having to shovel snow.
9. The Internet
I work from home two days a week because of the Internet. It's also because of the Internet that the FedEx man delivers our toilet paper and toothpaste.
Plus, you wouldn't be reading this post right now.
10. The Love to Read
I enjoy reading and wouldn't know what to do without books, just like Thomas Jefferson!
With two small children that like to be held, my reading time has been greatly reduced the past two years. But, my podcast use has skyrocketed! I enjoy podcasts because they help me learn about investing, running a business, and spiritual growth.
12. Entrepreneurial Spirit
I hated my old job and I've written about it several times on this blog. That's one reason my wife and I are self-employed. It's not always as easy as working for an employer, but we cherish the flexibility and not having to put up with the corporate politics.
13. Getting Paid To Do What I Love
My two income streams are teaching and freelance writing. I never thought I would do either of those activities three years ago and actually make a decent living. Yes, we still pinch pennies, but I don't miss my days of being an operations supervisor.
14. Not Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Even though we might only make $35,000 a year, we don't worry about having enough money to pay the bills. We don't take fancy vacations or go out to eat on a regular basis, but our quality of life is better now than when I made $80,000 a year. Being frugal is what helps us financially thrive on a small income.
15. A College Education
Although I think liberal arts degrees are oversold and the current national student debt balance of $1.5 trillion is ridiculous, my college degree did help me get several jobs.
While I hope a 4-year degree never becomes the new high school diploma, I think a 2-year technical school degree is essential if you don't do the traditional college path.
16. Family with Handy Skills
Some things can't be taught in college, like building a house, looking for septic tank leaks, building a raised flower bed, etc. If you're like me and never had to do these things as a child when our brains are like a sponge, you need somebody to show you how as an adult so you don't pay the repairman hundreds or thousands of dollars each time something needs repaired at your house.
Thankfully, we have several family members that have taught me some vital skills for DIY home repairs and car repairs that make our wallets happy.
17. Private Property
Once we pay off our mortgage, we'll be proud homeowners as well. Until then, we at least own two acres in the country that we can keep as long as we pay the property tax.
Finding a mentor can be a priceless experience. Their sage wisdom can spare you from trial and error. Some lessons you must teach yourself, but mentors can help you in unimaginable ways.
19. Owning Three Paid For Vehicles
We own three vehicles that we paid for with cash. Before you think we're loaded, the total combined value of all three might be $12,000 on a good day. By having cheap cars that safely get us everywhere we need to go, we have more money to spend on things that are more important to us that can benefit us in the future.
20. An Overabundance of Food
I've never missed a meal because I couldn't afford to buy food. We can also have a variety of dishes at our command like Asian, Mexican, Italian, Tex-Mex, etc. and never have to worry that the grocery stores will run out of food before we get there.
We have such an abundance of food, we can even be snobbish and eat organic food if we choose!
While I only try to drink it two or three days a week, I'm addicted to the taste and smell of coffee.
Like food, I've never had to worry about clothes and have always had enough layers for the wintry season. To make things better, my wife and I constantly find designer brands at our local thrift store for only a few dollars.
We can look like millionaires even though we aren't.
23. Modern Medicine
Although we try to visit the doctor as little as possible, it's still a blessing to have access to a world-class healthcare system when we need it.
How could I forget electricity? Without it, life would be so 18th century.
25. The Five Senses
Sight, Touch, Taste, Smell, and Hearing. Things we don't think of until we need a stronger eyeglass prescription, our nose is congested, or we can't figure out how to turn off the mute button.
If I could have a house anywhere, it would be in the mountains. They're my idea of natural beauty. Thankfully we have some pretty fall colors from our front yard and we can see the Smokies from our kitchen window too.
27. The Beach
My wife enjoys the beach. Personally, I can't stand the sand. But, since we live in the mountains we usually vacation at the beach once a year.
For a family-friendly beach destination, I recommend Hilton Head Island, SC.
The luxury to have time for hobbies is awesome since we don't have to work all day and all night. I've discovered my hobbies change with age and family dynamics, but they are a great way to remain physically and mentally active and feeling refreshed.
Imagining the future helps keep life fun as well. In a world where we constantly think we must spend our free time watching the latest Netflix show or we want “instant gratification” with our tech devices, I don't think we use our imagination and critical thinking skills as much as we did 10 or 20 years ago, we all have an imagination that keeps life interesting if we let it.
30. The Ability to Help Others
Too often, we only think about ourselves. By nature, humans are selfish. My wife and I enjoy helping others in need whether they are hungry, widowed, or orphaned. There are lots of great charities that can benefit from your donations. If you're cash-strapped, your time can be even more valuable as it's extremely easy for us to write a check and think the work is magically carried out with the wave of a want.
31. My Own Family
I'm extremely thankful for my own wife and family. While my bachelor days were more simple, they were lacking a sense of purpose and value that you don't realize until you marry and have a family. I'm sure many other parents and spouses can relate.
I've something I'm thankful for, now it's your turn!
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.