I usually cringe when I see state ranking lists published. In things like income and education, Mississippi is always on the bottom. In things like teen birth rate, we’re always at the top. Rarely do we have anything to crow about, but a recent list caused me to puff up a bit.
Mississippians are the second most generous folks in the country! How about that? For a state with the one of the lowest household incomes, this is big. We may not have much, but we’re generous. Much of this is grounded in our religious teachings.
I grew up in a family of tithers—10 percent of our earnings went into the offering plate. I confess that I often held back when it came to my own allowance, but I witnessed this discipline in my parents. My mother handled the household account, and I often stood nearby as she wrote that check. It was a big deal for a household with three kids and an elderly grandmother living, mainly, on one income.
While religion plays a role in this practice, I think being a rural state has an effect, as well. We all depend on each other. There was clear evidence of this commitment after Hurricane Katrina. Our life at the bottom has not left us mean and miserly. Instead, we are more prone to lend a hand to our neighbors.
I always preach about the need to live within our means, but we should take this two steps further. Our practice should be to live on 80 percent of our net income. Ten percent should go to the charities of our choice, so that we learn it’s not all about us. Ten percent should go into savings, so that we protect our families from those unexpected events.
Today, I’m claiming bragging rights for Mississippi. Take that New Hampshire and Vermont and Massachusetts. You got nothin’ on us!
Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is email@example.com, and her website is www.newper.com.