I live in a country that is known for it’s love of new gadgets, big homes, shiny new cars and designer clothes. I’m finding that it’s only getting worse with all the social media and internet images of wealthy celebrities flaunting their lifestyles. This is what our youth is seeing and being influenced by. They are being fed a message that having lots of pricey designer stuff equals happiness, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.
However, our youth is not the only ones being influenced by society. It’s sad to see people working hard just so they can acquire a pricey handbag or a big home they probably won’t even have the time to enjoy. If you have the means and enjoy buying these things, go for it. This post is not for you. I’m talking about those that can’t afford it, but feel the need to keep up with others. The sad part is that a lot of these people are also in debt and keep piling it on, so it’s a vicious cycle that continues.
Losing my job and going from two good incomes down to one income was truly a blessing for me. Yes, as crazy as it sounds it truly was. I remember being afraid of how we would pay for necessities. It was a stressful period in my life and a time that I had to truly rely on God to get through. However, it taught me how to manage my money when there was very little money to begin with, how to stretch my food budget, take the plunge and launch a business, and to be content with what we already had.
Nothing puts things in perspective like having to face a financial crisis. When you don’t know if you’ll have enough money for food that month, buying designer shoes is the last thing on your mind. I personally was never a big fan of anything fancy and I thank my parents for that. I grew up in a low-middle income home where my I saw my mom making the most of what we had. She upholstered her own furniture, planted her own veggies when we lived in Puerto Rico, and shopped at food outlets.
The other day I sat in my living room and noticed how beautiful it looked while the sun was going down. It was a moment that I cherish because I often find myself apologizing to visitors for my lack of decor. Yet, I realized that the only reason my home is decorated very simply is because I am choosing to only add the things that I find beautiful. I’m saving my wall for a gallery of photos of my children and someday it will go up (hopefully real soon!). But for now, I don’t need to fill up the space with anything else just for the sake of having something there. I prefer the simplicity of it all.
So what does living with less look like? I can’t answer that for you. It’s going to depend on your values and what standards you set for yourself. However, I urge you to truly evaluate what it is that you find yourself spending your hard earned money and time on.
Are you acquiring things that serve a purpose and that your family needs?
Or are you simply buying things to keep up with appearances?
I find that when I get distracted at the store by something that I “must have”, if I give myself some time to think about it, I don’t typically go back to purchase it.
Being content is going to require you to make daily decisions that will be tough at times, and it will also require you to have an attitude of contentment for the blessings you already have. Each day I thank God for our electricity, clean water and shelter. Why? Because I know there are millions of people in the world that are lacking one or more of these things. When you look at it from that perspective, having the latest iPhone model or designer shoes will no longer feel like such a big priority for you.
Do you find yourself struggling with being content?
I know it’s not easy, there are days when I see friends shopping without a care or pampering themselves and I get a tinge of jealousy. However, I know that none of it is worth it unless I am doing it for me and not because I want to keep up with appearances.