Happiness and money. There is a ton of complicated information “out there” about how to live simply and how to simplify our lives. Trust us humans to make the idea of “simple living” complicated.
The single most profound thing you can do to De-Jones your financial situation and ensure simple living is follow this one direction without fail:
DO NOT USE CONSUMER CREDIT. EVER.
What is consumer credit? It is when you borrow money to buy stuff. Examples are:
The point is that you should save the money first before buying it. If you don ot have the money, you cannot afford it. You cannot afford it if you want to live a life unencumbered by financial stress.
Consumer credit slogans and advertising promise us not only immediate gratification in terms of the consumer product or experience we are buying, but they promise us a lifestyle of excitement, satisfaction, love and happiness. The irony, is, of course, that if we follow these sexy and tempting advertising suggestions, we get the opposite, a lifestyle of crushing debt and obligations.
Think about how sexy and promising these slogans are that have been used by American Express:
We all know that consumer credit card debt and loans can load us up with many little payments that can become overwhelming. I have been there and am continuing to clean up the consumer mess I have created. It is not only the fact that you can over-extend yourself financially but you end up spending time making payments, organizing payments, keeping it all straight, not to mention the time that you spend earning money to pay down this debt unnecessarily created. All of this can be crushingly stressful and makes many of us miserable. Happiness and money is connected more than we might think.
The thing is, if you do not use consumer credit, you will buy less stuff. When you buy something you will have the money to buy it in your bank account, and you will be way less likely to buy stuff unless you can afford it and you really want it. This results in less consumer spending, and less junk and clutter in your home. A pretty simple way to get to simple living, wouldn’t you agree?
For example, I really want a MacBook Pro and I just looked it up online. It says that in order for me to buy that, I will have to pay $2,799 plus tax totalling $3,134.88.
The thing is, I don’t have that kind of money lying around and certainly not that amount of money that I want to spend at the moment. So, I do the regular Jones thing. I look at what it would take to make that same purchase if I use a credit card.
But they have this great offer. The website says that I can buy this same product for 12 easy payments interest free! I gave them a call. This is how it works. In essence, for an administration of $69.99 I can make 12 easy payments of $267.10. Now, we agree that $267.10 per month for 12 months is easier to come up with $3,134.88 in one shot. But what about that administration fee of $69.99?! Okay, sure...I am not paying "interest," but is there really a difference? That's an extra $70 I'm throwing away so that I can have this thing I want and can't afford and have it NOW.
Multiply those kinds of purchases throughout the many areas of your life and they can add up quickly. This is particularly the case if you have a car payment, furniture payment, and now a computer payment. Heck, you can even finance your vacations this way. This does not even take into account the credit card balance you may be carrying.
This kind of spending is actively encouraged by big and small businesses and is the basis of our economy. Being a Jones and doing everything a Jones does ensures our economy runs well and keeps us tied to our jobs and tied to our ever-increasing payments. See how happiness and money are connected? As long as we continue to mortgage and loan out our future income - resulting in us being bound to an ever required increasing amount of income to sustain us, true happiness will elude us.
I suggest that we opt out of this never-ending cycle of consumer spending, debt accumulation, and payments. Doing this will result in freedom to live your life with a ton of reduced stress. It is time we changed our relationship with happiness and money.
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional