It would appear that our 21st century world feeds us a daily, relentless dose of advertising, which sells us the promise that the road to happiness is through consumerism and materialism. So can we really feel good about ourselves if we are not keeping up with the Joneses?
I believe we can be very happy without the latest … phone, TV, Laptop, car. Do we really need another pair of shoes or trainers when we have boxes of them? After all we can only wear one pair at a time!
There is a difference between poverty, not having the things we need to manage our life daily, and having more than we need. It appears we choose not to control our own appetites for materialism and excessive living – hence our increasingly large waist lines and mounting personal debt. “The average household in the UK now owes a record amount of £12,887, even before mortgages are taken into account, according to research by the TUC, based on figures from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) end of September 2016”(www.bbc.co.uk).
The temptation to buy new things is real, I know it very well. There is definitely a feel good factor, initially, but when that has worn off there is the debt to pay which takes a much longer time than the euphoria of the spend.
I followed the following principles to help keep me on track:
1. Assessed the situation: I listed all my income and expenditure and looked at my bank statements to see how I was spending money over a year. Then I could see my spending habits a bit better.
2. Set a budget and kept to it.
3. No use of credit cards – only paying off any debt on them.
4. Identified any non-essential services – direct debits and standing orders for things that I no longer needed or could not afford and after contacting the suppliers I cancelled these things.
5. Shopped around to save money at less expensive stores, changed brands, looked for cheaper deals with other service providers.
6. Bought less and made the best use of what I already had. Reduced my food shopping bill by planning meals and cooking from scratch most of the time. Froze food to reduce waste.
7. Cut out all non- essential spending until all the debts were paid. Therefore no more buying of shoes, clothes, eating out or any other weakness that costs money (To get out of debt you have to be RUTHLESS!!!!).
8. Look for free events and entertainment and go out and enjoy life in parks and the countryside it’s free, fun and healthier anyway.
It took me a while but I eventually got out of debt and changed my attitude to spending. Having managed to live on less I now have more discipline in my spending habits and can resist the temptation to buy things I see and want (most of the time). I feel much happier not following the Joneses. In fact the bible says In Exodus 20:17, that we shouldn’t “Covet” (to wish, long, or crave for something, especially the property of another person) Collins English Dictionary.
I think we would be happier if we lived according to what we can afford and forgot about the Joneses.