Living well and spending less

consumerism

Thank you for joining me as we share ideas about living well and spending less.

So many of us find ourselves stressing about financial insecurity and wondering how we can get by in a world where the answer to every financial problem is “more.”  The home renovations will cost more.  I can improve my family life if I have more.  My job would be tolerable if I made more.  I will be respected if I can show that I have more.  We often fail to consider that we could be living well and spending less.

I offer that for many of us this anxiety is unnecessary.  For many of us, thinking about living well and spending less will alleviate the insecurity that makes us obsessed with “more.”  We may even find that the alleviation of our anxieties is the “more” that we have been seeking.

Conquering the drive to spend

We naturally (or perhaps pathologically) adjust our lifestyles to our incomes.  If we are living paycheck to paycheck, we are anxious and perhaps even unhappy.  If we get a better paycheck, we take on more liabilities and expenses until we are again living paycheck to paycheck.  Our anxiety and our unhappiness has followed. In the most extreme examples, studies show that just one year after winning the lottery, the winners reflect no permanent change in their level of happiness.

Living well spending less video
“Happiness” from Steve Cutts on Vimeo

Steve Cutts’ short film “Happiness” illustrates the pitfalls of consumerism in four devastating minutes.  The rat-race portrayed would be comical were it not so accurate.  The protagonist is frustrated in his fast-paced, contentious life where happiness seems just out of reach.  Advertisers,  employers, pharmaceutical companies, and society generally offer their solutions to his problems, but each solution fails to deliver.  Cutts ultimately offers no solution.

Breaking the cycle of consumerism by living well and spending less

The person who learns living well and spending less might be just as happy or unhappy as they would have been spending more, but at least they won’t have financial anxiety contributing to their woes.

I recently re-read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and although the book has an obvious bias against the working class, it provides a thoughtful exploration of our natural tendency to spend every penny of income.  The author offers that what makes a person rich is not their income but the fact that they spend less than they make.  Spending modestly (even with a modest income) ultimately leads to a surplus.

Related post: The Tao of Cheap: What Taoism Teaches about Money

Three types of people who want to live well and spend less:

  1. People truly in need:  Even in a society of plenty, some people are truly desperate financially, often due to circumstances beyond their control.  I sincerely hope that one or two of the ideas in this blog will help.  If one idea helps even one person to the slightest degree, I will be greatly gratified.
  2. People who are spendy: We are all guilty of convincing ourselves that wants are actually needs.  We tell ourselves that we must project success, or that we must “treat ourselves” to keep going, or that we must have what everyone else has to be validated.  We must keep our spending thoughts in check. Read more about how our minds mislead us to spendy behaviors.
  3. Cheapists:  People who are financially stable and want to keep it that way. Cheapists are living well and spending less  and are continually looking for ways to continue doing so. Cheapists have enough, enjoy life, and know that “more” is not really the answer.

Together we will explore both the mundane and the philosophical elements of being frugal. Some posts will apply to your life but many will not.  Some ideas will be dead wrong for you. Nevertheless, considering the posts will create a mindfulness that you can apply in creative or unexpected ways. It is my hope that I will be the true learner as you share your cheapist ideas with me.

Sincerely, The Cheapist

the cheapest man alive

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