When we started this blog last year, we did so with the aim to help others. All around us we could see people in varying states of distress over their current situation. 90% of the time they had complete control over their ability to change it, but they just couldn’t make the changes required. We thought that if we shared some of the ways in which we are able to save and the techniques that have allowed us to become debt free and thus, follow our passions, that we might be able to help.
But we aren’t the only people who have thought of this. There are many great blogs about personal finance, budgeting, investing, minimalism, and all of the nuanced topics in between. Everyone with internet access can also work off of Google Sheets to keep a budget on a spreadsheet. More than ever people are connected to the collective knowledge of the internet. Yet the simple solutions, or the recognition thereof, remain elusive for so many.
Data showing that people, in general, are in financial trouble even with a wealth of available knowledge online:
- The average US household in 2015 had over $15,000 in credit card debt
- 63 percent of Americans say they’re unable to handle a $500 car repair or a $1,000 emergency room bill
So what gives? The simple credo of “Spend less than you make, and save the rest” doesn’t seem to be connecting. What could be standing in the way of such simple logic? How can the elegance of minimalism elude so many?
The answer is this: consumerism. Or consumeritis. Whatever you choose to call it, our society is constantly telling us to buy something to look better, or to buy something to fit in, or to buy something because we won’t be complete without it. We find that this mindset is not conducive to leading the life of freedom (financial or otherwise).
What we have come to realize is that most people can intellectually understand the basic concepts of saving. The problem is lack of commitment to living that mindset.
Here is our zen philosophy of anti-consumerism. If the numbers and statistics won’t sway you or help you to make the changes necessary to get out of debt, perhaps a change in mindset will help you get there:
- We have released ourselves from the compulsion to spend.
Even if something is 70% off, or on clearance, or the best deal ever, we automatically think “don’t buy.” Then we may consider the costs and benefits and only if a compelling need is presented will we make a purchase.
- We find joy from pursuing our passions and searching for our purpose.
We enjoy a good comedy from time to time, but we have made a habit of focusing on our passions. We haven’t had a regular TV show that we make a point to watch in a long time. We aren’t required to sit in front of the TV for hours on end ‘catching up on a show.’ But we do feel that we have to pursue our dreams and grow our mind and keep our bodies healthy. All of those items keep us plenty busy and it turns out that most of those activities cost us nothing.
- We have a clear goal in mind to work towards.
We both are lucky enough to have jobs that we genuinely enjoy going to every day, but we know that we want to see the world and experience life beyond the confines of our office. We have a goal of retiring early so that we can travel and contribute and live life on our terms. Small material items don’t compare to this goal and it makes it easier to resist the lure of consumerism.
That is our philosophy. What works for us may not work for you, but spend some time thinking intentionally about what you want your life to be and what is standing in the way of getting there. Is it your debt? Is it your mortgage? Is it your mountain of stuff that is keeping you in one place? Whatever it is, once you have that philosophy in your mind it will be easier to take the steps necessary to make the change of your life.