I wrote this article many years ago but perhaps you will still find the ideas helpful.
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The Pain of Handing Over Cash
I love money. I always have. From the childhood paper route onward, I delighted in the gradual accumulation of coins and bills on my dresser. Whenever I had saved enough to purchase some much desired item, it was downright painful to actually make the purchase and see all that money disappear so much faster than it took to save.
While I’ve wasted a lot of money on useless things, I’ve never lost that sinking feeling when the money is a handed over. Even when it’s for something necessary and useful. I always think about how many hours of work it took to save that cash. And it’s probably that awful feeling that has kept me out of debt all these years.
Shopping For Fun
When you’re naturally frugal and not really interested in shopping for “fun” or keeping up with fashions or trends, it can seem like much of the world around you is on race to get somewhere you do not understand.
Single Use Plastics
Watching footage of the masses of garbage floating in our oceans (Google ‘great pacific garbage patch‘ or watch The Story of Stuff on YouTube or the documentary Bag It), it’s hard not see the side effects of constant consumerism as one of the main threats to the health of our planet.
Discarded single-use plastics are literally choking wildlife, filling the bellies of unsuspecting sea and land animals, and disrupting natural cycles. It all comes back to the stuff we consume each day. Do we need all that packaging? Do we need all this stuff? Is this really a sustainable economy?
Even if it didn’t cause all this waste and pollution, really, do we seriously need all this stuff?
Giving Up The Rush For Stuff
For some, the thought of becoming non-consumers is kind of terrifying. It’s hard to imagine giving up that adrenaline rush of buying new stuff and finding great deals. Having the latest cute shoes. And I don’t even know what I could say to convince someone that it’s pretty enjoyable over here in non-shopping land too. But I’ll try.
Far From The Madding Crowd
Life as a non-shopper is not about doing without useful and beautiful things. It’s simply more about quality, having things that last a long time, taking good care of them, and therefore needing less. It’s about asking: Can I live without this? And Will I still have this and want it in five or ten years? The goal is not deprivation. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about recognizing how abundant our lives really are.
It’s about feeling okay about not having the latest and greatest of everything. Living within one’s means. And knowing that even if I had pots of money, I still wouldn’t be an avid shopper. I’d use the money in other ways.
Is it possible to live a creative, debt-free life without feeling hard done-by and deprived?
Yes it is. In fact, I would argue that it’s the best life we could live. We have far more freedom (physically and emotionally) than we would if we carried debt and it’s a very satisfying life to take good care of what we do have, and use things up instead of discarding them for something better. You don’t have to pay attention for very long to figure out that there’s always a better upgrade around the corner, and there will always be another sale just as good as the current one. Our entire economy is based on this charade. Act now or you may never get another chance! Until, of course, there’s another chance.
Is Debt Worth It?
We are self-employed with fluctuating incomes and, to ensure some security, we not only live debt-free but ensure we have emergency resources to fall back on. We have had to make use of them more than once.
Telling The Truth About Money
To live within our means, every single dollar is tracked, we live within a budget (it’s pretty much on autopilot after years of experience), and we save up for any extra spending. You can read more on this here.
Sound painful? It’s really not. What’s painful is charging a trip you have no money for on a credit card and paying 20% interest while you make minimum monthly payments for years to come. Knowing we can get by when times are tough? I’ll take it. Knowing we can invest in ventures we think will make the world a better place? I’m in!
Math Is Your Friend
A lot of people spend beyond their means by ignoring the math. They don’t read their bills or comprehend how much interest they are really paying or figure out how long it will take to pay it off. But ignorance is not bliss. It simply delays a major reality check. And the longer you try to ignore it, the worse it gets.
Get The Man Out Of Your Pocket
When I got serious about managing our money, I dove into the math and stopped being intimidated by legal jargon. I started reading contracts, terms of service, mortgage and insurance documents, and tracking everything. That’s when you start seeing who is taking your money for a ride. And that’s when you can stop it. Knowledge is power.
But I Deserve It
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says, But I deserve it! I deserve this car / boat/ clothing /jewelry / trip / house ….Um, actually, no you don’t. The world isn’t actually based on some material reward system where everyone gets stuff because they’ve had a hard week. It’s actually a terribly unbalanced place where things are very unfair. But fortunate circumstance, hard work, and self-discipline can steer us toward financial freedom and a really fine life if we stop squandering our money and start making it work for us.
A Life Without Interest Payments
So, could I really convince someone that it’s better over here, away from the malls, with the boring, one page credit card bill and just a few items of clothing? Probably not. But those who are teetering with discontent might find some comfort knowing that there’s a whole bunch of us scattered around the world who bet our lives on it.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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