19 July 2007

Not spending

Picture from allposters.com

Learning how to stop spending is one of the most difficult things to do when you first start living more simply. Simplicity embraces and encourages thrift. Being thrifty by choice or necessity is not being cheap and it is not poverty. Being cautious with your resources – financial and otherwise – gives you the choice of saving for whatever is important to you. That may be paying off the mortgage years early, travelling, being a one income family so one of you can stay at home with the children, being a single parent with the responsibility of raising children without a partner, saving for the deposit on your first home, retiring early or paying for your child’s university degree. It may even be something as simple as eating fresh organic food that you’ve grown yourself and learning how to bake bread and make cheese.

Changing to this way of life puts you in control of your standard of living, it can reduce the amount of stress you live with and it will show your children and friends that happiness and contentment is the one thing not available in the vast shopping malls of Australia.

Trying to outdo friends and neighbours with what you own, or pretend to own with the bank, is rarely packaged with happiness. When I hear fellow Australians talk about their flat screen TVs and media rooms, I feel sad for them and a little ashamed that we’ve come to this. Remember that simple living doesn’t mean giving up pleasure. It means instead that you choose your pleasures, you work towards them and you abandon the negatives that get in the way of achieving the life you want. It definitely doesn’t mean that you duplicate the lives of every other family in your street as dictated by the TV advertisements that pour into our homes every day. Advertisements are cleverly produced to show only the benefits of buying, rather than the damaging ones. We aren’t told that Australians now owe 36 billion dollars on credit card debt; they don’t say we have record levels of bankruptcy and we spend more than we earn. Advertising never urges us to be prudent with our money, it rarely advises caution. It focuses on instant gratification and self-interest.

If you move towards a more simple life you establish your own goals, you decide what is important to you and you work to achieve those goals. And the good thing is, once you leave behind the need to buy whatever takes your fancy, you start to see the vast potential of your new life because you aren't blinded by all that "stuff".
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