2.15.2013

A Note on Living Within Your Means

Individuals, feeling guilt, shame, irritation, or discomfort with modern trappings and the continuous attempts to match the Joneses might choose, at some point, to turn off or unplug from that "matrix" and instead, set themselves on a different path. One of the biggest, what I'll call, consciousness movements that I've been following in recent years: the "living within your means" movement.

To some, this comes as common sense: live within your financial means, spend less than you earn. This can also extend to simplify your expectations, lifestyle, habits, and more. Is it a reaction to the infamous "rat race?" Maybe.

As a result of adopting a pared down, within means philosophy, folks can become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Many create their own household cleaning solutions from scratch, turn to comforting foods with plenty of leftovers, and become more thoughtful about the impact their actions have on their surroundings.

This is a combination lifestyle and hobby melded into a new perspective on things. It's actually fascinating seeing how much change people can willingly implement in their own mind-sets and lifestyles as a result. It would seem counterintuitive, since people who are used to plentiful lifestyles can suffer something close to withdrawal symptoms when a sudden change in their lifestyle emerges.

I've read research that says that people gain a great sense of accomplishment and joy when they are able to create something themselves, even if it's not perfect or looks like what a pro would do. For more on this, see the HBR 2009 article titled the Ikea Effect.

From what I've read from articles, blogs, and in talking with people, folks who adopt this "live within your means" lifestyle gradually with an aim for long term change, have enjoyed feeling reenergized and creative. They celebrate small victories, which bring them happiness. I'm sure this is a great step towards reaching the sense of accomplishment that's probably on the top rungs of Maslow's hierarchy.

I love reading money saving blogs and articles, or learning sustainable practices from people I speak with, and observing the joy people get from feeling self-reliant. I think some of it is being absorbed by osmosis and can make me experience some of these same wins and sense of accomplishment sometimes. It's a contagious sense of excitement and possibility...hope, which can do a lot of good these days.