Last week I had a delightful email from a woman who told me that after reading here for a few months, she made big changes to her life and is now reaping the benefits of those changes. She decluttered, started cooking from scratch and living within her means; she has a plan in place to pay off her mortgage in ten years - she'll then be 41. She wrote to thank me for motivating her towards change and to tell me how surprised she is by the strong feeling of independence and of being in control she now has. It's always wonderful getting emails like that mainly because I absolutely understand what they're saying; it mirrors the changes I made in my own life which resulted in similar feelings of empowerment.
If someone had told me before I started living to a budget, cutting back, slowing down, decluttering and generally living below my means, that I would be reinvigorated by it, I would not have believe them. I didn't really think much about how my changes would make me feel, I just needed to save money and that was that. Now, years down the track, I feel more in charge of my life than ever before; I feel independent and strong, and optimistic about staying that way.
I don't write much about this feeling of empowerment but it is always there and it is enduring. I guess it starts building when new skills are developed. There is always a better way of doing things, new recipes to learn when tastes change, improved methods when you've been doing a task for a long time. Then small changes turn into bigger ones and the learning continues. The more you do, the more you learn, and the more you're capable of doing. Then your changes enable you to pay off debt faster. That builds self confidence and the feeling that even if life doesn't always go as planned, you would cope, no matter what. Add to that a feeling of independence that comes when you stop buying fashions and fads. You don't get swept along by popular opinion, you stay true to your own values, confidence builds and you know, deep down to your bones, that you can look after yourself.
And that's all we really need to do. If we can look after ourselves and our families, if we have confidence that even if the economy bottomed out and stayed that way for a prolonged period of time, we would have the capabilities to not only get everyone fed, but to thrive, then that serves us for that day and the next, and it builds our feelings of independence and of really owning our own lives. If living simply makes you feel empowered when times are tough, imagine how you'll feel when everything is fine and dandy. You'll feel like you can do anything, and maybe you can. And that, my friends, is a great pay off for any sacrifice you may make along the way.
So if you're new to all this, I encourage you to dive right in; there is a wonderful life waiting. If you're convinced you'll be giving up many of the things you love and be restricted as you cut back and live on a budget, when you get used to your new life, worries about deprivation will be replaced by confidence and that feeling of independence. Your life will open up and instead of seeing difficulties ahead, you'll see challenges, opportunities and freedom. And I promise you that will outlast any feeling you get from a new pair of shoes or going to a concert that you can't really afford.