Prosperity equals advantage.
Do you believe that?
I am fascinated with the irony of this mentality most Americans hold dear. Maybe even more so since I hear often, as a mother of nine, about “affording all those children.”
All of us believe, somewhere deep within, that to prosper financially puts us at an advantage. And in many ways that can be true (nor am I an advocate of “poor on purpose”). Hey, we’re an entrepreneur family; I think of ways to make money in my sleep.
But history reveals hundreds of men and women whose very hardship catapulted them to distinction through the chiseling of character, (snatching our bosom-clutched, false assumptions right out of our hands), yet we still refuse to nod at scarcity or give it its due reward for human improvement.
Hard times can have immensely positive effects on people, families and society.
Scarcity doesn’t feel nice; maybe that’s the bottom line. But a panoramic view gives us slightly more confidence to praise the attributes of living on less. We might be better–the whole society, it seems, was better in a less prosperous era.
From a USA News article, Americans are finding “things they can live without.” Interestingly, when one thing is lost, another, often better thing takes its place. Can you see from this list how prosperity so quickly robs families of important things, while a dearth can restore them?
Clutter. As Americans downsize, do more of their own cleaning, and look for stuff they can sell online, they’re discovering tons of things around the house they can get rid of…. “We keep being amazed at how having less stuff, with no deprivation, actually gives us better quality of life,” says Deborah Merchant. “We’ve gained emotional and spiritual maturity.”
Cable TV. Many people are cutting back on pay-TV services or canceling them altogether, which saves $50 to $100 a month…. Others are giving up television completely. “There’s no money for cable TV, so my Internet does me for all my news and other entertainment,” says Mariluna Martin of Los Angeles. “That’s money saved, plus no TV means no blaring of bad news, fear-mongering, ad pressures, and other unpleasantness.” Martin spends more time reading books and sipping tea at a neighborhood café. She finds that rewarding: “The changes I’ve had to make have made my life better. Things are simpler and healthier now.” Better than the money saved by cutting this service, families can be transformed as they discover a whole level of new relationships–talking, playing and living life together.
Privacy. To save on rent or mortgage payments….grown kids are moving back in with their parents….. “We have learned to enjoy a simple, cost-effective, and minimalist approach to life by developing an appreciation for nature and family,” he says. “Big, expensive toys and trips were fun before, but we really don’t need them anymore.”
Prepared foods. More people are cooking at home, and they’re doing it with fewer pre-made sauces, marinades, dressings, and other ingredients. “Moms are back to basic cooking,” says Chance Parker, a market researcher at J.D. Power & Associates. “They want to use fresh herbs and spices. It saves money, and it’s more healthy.”
Extra calories. Some Americans say they’re eating less to save money and drinking more water or doing other things to suppress their appetite.
New gifts. Regifting is a time-tested practice—but there’s always room to refine your strategy. Linda Amicucci of Tenafly, N.J., holds a “treasure party” with a group of friends after Thanksgiving every year to swap recyclable gifts.
New cars. It’s no secret that new-car sales plunged to levels 40 percent lower than the peak in 2006. But many buyers who have traded down to a used model are surprised at the quality of the merchandise.
Comfort. Thermostats all across America are going lower in winter, higher in summer.
A daily commute. Telecommuting increased during the recession as well, and more people say they’re riding bikes or walking more to save on gas costs—or a gym membership.
Debt. Who needs it? “I have learned that it takes little time to run dangerously high credit card balances,” says Tom Poirer of Lowell, Mass., “but an inordinately long time to pay it back. I have learned to deprogram myself from the consumerist mayhem.”…We may ultimately end up with less stuff. But at least we’ll be able to afford what we have.
Can you hear it? A country that has been (and still is) so consumer minded, so money-driven and stuff-hungry, that even these changes would sound crazy to a truly impoverished individual.
Added by the recommendation of a commenter: truly the biggest advantage to experiencing financial difficulty is the complete dependence on God and watching His provision and loving protection over His children. Few of us ever get to experience the sheer dependence on daily bread. It is a sweet place to be, difficult as it feels at the time.
Still, I’m thankful for many lessons our family has learned and is learning by “force”, simply because affordability is not an option. No, I don’t think we should aim to be poor; but we would do well to respect its natural improvements on our lives and not be so afraid of it.