And the thing before that ?
And before that ?
We could all go on, but for most of us sat reading this in the first world, it’s a list that very quickly becomes very long – snacks, clothes, gadgets, books, gifts, coffee, trips, fuel, entertainment, meals out, apps, toiletries, drinks, stuff for home, stuff for the kids, stuff for ourselves . . . It’s not that buying things in itself is bad, it’s just that we all consume so much.
Although it probably doesn’t seem like it, we’re among the richest people that have ever lived, and if you’re reading this online, somewhere warm and dry, with a full stomach and a drink that won’t give you a disease, you’re already one of the richest twenty five percent of people in the world. If you earn the average UK wage of £26,500 a year, you’re in the top 1% !
Drop in on the website How Rich am I to use their calculator and see how you measure up.
We know it’s a big world out there and we know there are millions and billions of people living in poverty while we have so much, but it’s somehow too much to comprehend, too distant, their lives are too different to ours – we can’t relate to it, so we don’t see ourselves as rich. This disconnect is entirely normal and natural, but it means we’re left comparing our lives and our stuff with the society around us . . . along with all the advertising, streets filled with shops and a focus on the lifestyles of the rich and famous, we’re easily left with the sense of wanting more in order to be happy.
US writer Jeff Yeager talks about ‘Slaying our Enoughasaurus’ – deciding that ‘enough is enough’ and conditioning ourselves to spend less and to be content doing so. He’s one of many now advocating a more frugal but happier life.
This Lent I’ll be doing a money diet – and reducing my spending as low as I can.
It’s obviously not a total ban on spending money – I’ll still be paying the bills, putting petrol in the car and food on the table, but the aim is not too much else. No takeaways, meals out, purchased lunches, drinks in the pub, clothes, books, games, music, apps, gadgets or anything else – well almost. I’ve decided to make a few exceptions: I’ve got two social commitments (a meal and a film) with friends that I’m going to honour, but I’ll be doing so very much at the frugal end of things. I’m also going to continue with the sport and exercise I do, but apart from this (and a trip to the dentist) I should be ‘consumption free’ until Easter . . . we’ll see what happens.
Six weeks doesn’t actually seem that long. Robin MacArthur went for a year without buying anything new (almost).
So why am I doing this ?
Well the idea is to teach myself a little more self-control and resilience – freedom from desire etc, but also to see how easy it would be to reduce our spending longer term. Having lower overheads, fewer commitments and more money in the bank seem generally very sensible things to do in these uncertain, austere times.
I’m also hoping giving up spending for Lent will encourage me to spend a bit more time in the garden . . . it definitely needs it !
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Photo by Tax Credits, via Flickr