If you ask most people to name the top three areas of discontent in their lives, the majority will say they’re not content with their finances. They’re not happy with their financial situation, so they constantly feel insecure, worried—even trapped: slaves to their crippling debt.
Being trapped is a terrible feeling—until you discover what has entrapped you: a life of compulsory consumption is the culprit. And minimalism is an answer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a single guy in your twenties or a family guy with six children, we often spread ourselves too thin. We live beyond our means. Both of us were certainly living this way: we both had high-paying jobs and yet we had more debt than ever, which only increased as our salaries increased. It was a counter-intuitive spiral: the more we earned, the more debt we accumulated.
Why? Well, some people call it keeping up with the Joneses, others call it becoming accustomed to a different lifestyle. You can strip away all of the aphorisms and call it consumption. Too often we mistake our wants as needs—but many of the things we think we want, we don’t want once we get them.
Unnecessary consumption leads to debt, debt leads to financial woes, financial woes lead to discontentment, and discontentment is the key element of unhappiness; therefore, unnecessary consumption equals unhappiness. The path is obvious, yet we ignore it. We choose to go through each day suffering with worry, anxiety, and fear so we can buy things we don’t need and often don’t even want.
It’s time to break the cycle.
Read these four essays about how The Minimalists regained control of our finances:
Also, somewhat related: do you hate how much junk mail you get from the post office? We did, too, so here’s what you can do:
The Direct Marketing Association offers a free, online-only service at DMAChoice.org to stop catalogs and junk mail deliveries—or get more of them, if you desire. Most legit mailers are a member of the DMA, so this could reduce your load of unsolicited mail by up to two-thirds. When you’re at the DMA site, you may see a direct link to OptOutPreScreen.com, which will prevent the major credit bureaus from sending pre-approved credit card applications to you. Another site you’ll want to check is WorldPrivacyForum.org, which is a clearinghouse for all these matters. (Source: clarkhoward.com.)
“Finances” is Day 15 of Our 21-Day Journey into Minimalism. Move on to Day 16. Read Ryan’s journal entries from this entire journey in Everything That Remains. You can also subscribe to The Minimalists via email.