Is Less More?
There has been a movement in the world of minimalism, lately. And I thought that I would address the question, “Is living with less really more?”
Recently I received a comment from a reader, and they wrote the following:
This is just an attempt to make money by selling a lifestyle.
This is the new real estate scam: selling psychological ‘guilt-free’ living.
10 years from now all these ‘minimalists’ will be bcak to their old ways, just like the Boomers got square during the Reagan years. Right now, these yuppies are converting their reduced income into a ‘smugness’ account so that they can continue to feel superior to the ‘unenlightened’ down the block.
He/she has a few valid points and some points that I do not agree with. Let’s discuss, shall we?
Yes, there is a recession or slow down in the economy, I think that we have established that much. As people, we find ways to cope, and for many of us, we have really stopped and examined our lifestyles and our spending to better prepare for and deal with the economic situation.
I’m sure that many people were spending too much money and racking up credit card debt, and if they were out of a job – they were left with little options. Maybe they started by selling things that they didn’t need on E-bay for money, maybe they just stop buying things on credit, or maybe they decided to really analyze their spending habits and made a change for the better.
Whatever the reason, the important thing was that people started to realize that a life on credit, is not a sustainable life. Usually whatever we are putting on credit is stuff – a mortgage, car payments, clothes, restaurants, booze, etc.
What I disagree most with the above comment is that once this recession was over, people will go back to their “old ways” just like how “boomers got square in the Reagan years”. I’m not exactly sure what the second statement meant, but I assume that he/she meant spending like crazy.
Readers, since when is spending like crazy “normal”? I don’t think it’s normal or the “old ways” at all. In fact, I think the “old ways” was to save for things and then pay for them in full. The old ways was living with what you can afford, and if you couldn’t afford it, you’d do without. If anything, credit cards are the “new way”. The “new way” that makes spending so much easier and within reach of more people.
Want that fancy car today? Can’t afford to buy it? No problemo, finance it. Drive it now, pay for it later. That is the message that we are bombarded with as consumers, today. Do they tell you that you can end up paying for one and a half times the price of the car after all the interests payments are accounted for? Of course not.
Despite being bombarded with advertisements and promises of dream products, we as consumers are also not helpless. Aside from doing the proper research of total costs of purchases, we also have the freedom to decide for ourselves whether something will make our lives happier or not. Instead of letting an ad or sexy picture tell us how we can be happier stress-free versions of ourselves, we should be making the decision of what makes us happy.
When we stop and take a minute to really evaluate our individual situations, and focus on what we have instead of what the media tells us we are lacking, we might come to the conclusion that we have shelter, we have clean water, we have food, we have government stability, we have access to education, we have family and friends who love us. That is more than most of the world has.
If you want more, you will never have enough. And if you are satisfied with what you have, there is nothing to want.
To me, minimalism is not about saying “no” to everything, it’s about consciously making a decision to include something in your life, because you see value in it. There is no “smug” account, we are all here to help and support one another on our individual paths to our different dreams and goals.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that the recession has accelerated the minimalist movement and do you think that this a fancy way of dubbing a “poor man/women’s” lifestyle? I’d love to hear your input!