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Going through the exit loan counseling process this week really put things into perspective for me: I’m a senior, and in a month I’ll be an independent career person. You know, like the ones you see on TV.

What’s got me down about this transition isn’t the impending doom of living alone and not having my mom and dad pay my bills anymore, but rather that my mind has been in the wrong place. I haven’t been thinking about what I’ll do to stay active, happy and involved, but instead about how I’ll afford my apartment, loan payments, cell phone bill, etc., which is stressful even to the most financially irresponsible 20-something.

After one particular fit of nervous thought in the past few days, I couldn’t help but turn my focus on the “Why” of this situation, instead of the “How,” and it got me thinking: Why is money the center of American life? Since when did how much you make become the measure of success, instead of what you’ve done or who your friends are?

What I propose is this: how good we are should be a result of what we do, not how much we earn. Do you make six figures a year? Maybe seven, eight or nine? Good for you. Want to impress me? Do something with your life.

No, I don’t mean buy a 129-inch LCD 3-D HDTV with surround sound and smell-o-vision or the latest XBOX 1080 with new “think-n-play” technology. Money can buy you a lot of cool things, but can things take the place of meaningful relationships?

That’s not to say that money is inherently evil. The precise moment it does become evil, though, is that moment where it becomes more important to you than another person’s well-being.

No one worthwhile will remember you for the TV you owned, the car you drove, or the house you lived in. Regardless of your religious beliefs, property is never something you get to keep after you die. Live life not for the things, but for the memories.

Your possessions will be re-sold, demolished, or tossed in the trash after you’re gone, but no one can ever touch the mark you left on the lives of others. Your income and possessions may become statistics, but your character will become a legacy. What will yours be?


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