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The benefits of living a simple life

By Nina Steele 

I have recently become an advocate of the concept of living a simple life. My husband and I have always lived that way but it never occurred to me to promote it until I came across this website: www.becomingminimalist.com, owned by Joshua Becker. The more I read some of the articles on the site, the more I saw many examples that applied to us.

We are what you will call a typical middle class family with a decent monthly income, yet we have never felt the need to splash out. For example, when we were in the process of buying our current house in 2012, one of the banks we were seeking a mortgage from offered to lend us twice the amount we were asking for, however, our misgivings about debt meant that we stuck to our principles and took out the lesser mortgage we had planned.

We don’t believe in living beyond our means and so the only debt we have is the repayment left on our mortgage. The car we currently drive is a 7 year old Vauxhall, it is cheap to run and is running fine and so we don’t see why we need to upgrade to a new car just yet. We don’t believe in keeping up with the Joneses and that is reflected in the way we live our life.

I have to admit that it was not always that way for me. Being originally from Africa, I inherited a culture that is generally very materialistic. I suppose it can be argued that poverty tends to make people that way; when survival is at stake and it is for many of the people there, money is all that matters. My husband on the other hand has always been careful with money, it is how he was raised. When we met he had no debt at all and was horrified to find that I did. He helped me repay the debt in full and ever since our values have been the same.

Capitalism as a system is not a bad thing, after all even the once mighty communist states such as China and Russia are now capitalist in all but name. The creation of wealth can benefit many people in terms of job creation for example and even though the financial crisis of 2008 has somehow discredited it as a system, there is no viable alternative and so the best way forward is to use it carefully.

The problem of personal debt for example, it seems is a problem that is specific to a handful of countries, particularly the UK and the US. Germany has always been known as a nation of savers, while the developing countries of the Far East seem to follow those same values. Having said that, conspicuous consumption it seems is a universal trend. Go to any city in Africa today and you will see people with the latest mobile phones or wearing designer clothes (even though I suspect many are fakes). China is now considered one of the biggest markets for luxury goods, while the love for designer clothes in the UK is there for all to see.

Living a simple life is all about living within our means and buying the things that we need as opposed to conspicuous consumption. By buying the things that we need instead of chasing the latest trend, we not only keep ourselves from falling into unnecessary debt, we also contribute to looking after our world not only for our own benefit but also for future generations. The world resources are not limitless and so we are putting our future at risk by consuming more than we should. How many times have we bought items on a whim, only to have them gather dust somewhere in the house?

Becoming a conscious consumer will not only do wonders for your bank balance, but also, the peace that you will feel will make it totally worth it. Living your life trying to keep up with others is not only exhausting in the long run, it is also inauthentic living and as such it will never make you happy. Simplicity on the other hand gives us peace of mind and peace of mind always leads to long lasting happiness.

Comments

  1. http://Dbohio1969 says

    I am working my way to a minimalist lifestyle. I have been getting rid of unused stuff by the box and bagful. We are putting our home on the market Spring 2015 and will downsize to something smaller. I have become much more conscious about purchases as well. Honestly, simple things have always made me most happy, a walk on a beautiful day or working in my garden.

    • Hi DB, I have been getting rid of stuff as well and this past weekend, I took 3 sackful of clothes (including shoes) to a charity shop. Some of the items were purchased over 10 years ago and I kept them ‘just in case’. Reading some of the articles on the becomingminimalist website spurred me on to get rid of them and I felt so good afterwards. It just felt as though a huge cloud had lifted and I felt a lightness of spirit that I haven’t felt for a long time. My wardrobe is now easier to navigate and I can see clearly where everything is as opposed to the complete mess that it was before. I feel at peace!

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