“…Thanks, but I will take the bus…”

Admittedly, the title of this blog entry is a gross simplification of the interchange between the Roman Catholic Church’s new Pontiff, Pope Francis, and his limousine-driving entourage-in-waiting on the afternoon of His Excellency’s annunciation. As the story unfolded, we learned that Pope Francis rejected the traditional and honored mode of Papal transportation for a ride back to his former quarters on the communal bus along with his brother Cardinals. This deferral has received much attention – and great applause by the media, the Catholic Community and society in general.

While an inspiring story—and one close to my heart as a committed member of the Catholic Church—I comment upon this because it shows that a conservative approach to advancement has its benefits. How many folks obtain a raise in their salary and immediately rush to buy the bigger car, bigger house, or fancy watch, only to see the net cash flow from their new salary, less their extravagance turn out to be less than they had before their raise! A college graduation begets a new car payment or a higher apartment rent that puts the new graduate behind the financial “8 ball”! Do we extend ourselves because we “deserve it” or we want to prove to others how successful we are? I suggest we take a lesson in humility and practicality from Pope Francis—he will have times when private cars and private airplanes will be required to meet his need for timing and security, but when possible, and practical, the bus can be easier and certainly more fun!

Chris Honenberger is the former President and CEO of Clearpoint. He has significant experience in law, banking and finance, and executive leadership, and during his time at Clearpoint he guided the agency toward its mission of “consumer health through financial education.”

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