27 September 2012

The GFC and learning to live with less

Before the global financial crisis (GFC) started in 2008, there was rarely anything in the press or on TV about budgeting, going back to basics, frugal living, simplifying, living within your means or anything much outside the consumerist norm. Well, times have changed us, and not only do I think significant change has happened, I think for many of us, this way of living makes so much sense, it is here to stay.

Now I often see magazine and newspaper articles as well as TV news and current affairs segments on thrift, budgeting, saving money by shopping wiser and where to get the best grocery prices. I have to say, I wonder why it's taken a world-wide financial collapse to bring us to this point. I think these topics would be useful all the time, but still, I'm grateful for the information we get now. I think these snippets of info are really helpful to all of us but especially the younger readers who have grown up believing that it's fine to spend on whatever you want, regardless of whether you have the cash to do it. Paying by credit card is so easy and often it's only when people are deep in debt that they realise how much damage has been done and how much work will go into getting out of debt. Often it takes years.

Not going along that debt pathway in the first place is the wisest option. By moderating your desires and practicing frugality a wonderful life can be built that gives many of the good things you work for but also the free time to enjoy it all.

The downturn in the economy caused a lot of unemployment and unpaid mortgages but significant gains were made from it too. It revealed to us that we can live well on less, and often having more reduces our enjoyment of life because we have to work more to pay for it. It taught us that genuine satisfaction comes not from comparing ourselves ourselves to others and gauging our worth by having more, it comes from creating an authentic life that is lived according to the values we cherish. 

But there are choices to be made - and those choices are critical. You can choose a new house with a high mortgage or a modest home with a more realistic mortgage. You can choose to buy furniture you can afford, not what your friends have or what you see in a glossy magazine. You can choose to stockpile, make your own cleaners, cook from scratch and hand-make your life or to buy all your wants and well as your needs. Each of these choices will determine how much money you need to live the life you have chosen.

The choice is yours but if you choose the frugal option, you will have more time to enjoy what you have. I think that is one of the best things to come out of the GFC. It has shown us that there is an alternative to what modern life had become. It has encouraged us to examine life and make changes, and it has moved many of us towards a more sustainable and simple way of living. The financial downturn has been effecting life world-wide for a few years now and it's given us time to settle into new patterns and routines. For many, it has forced change that may not have happen otherwise and for others it has brought more people in line with how we're living.

How have you been effected by the GFC? Have you seen some good in it?

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