On to chapter eight of Living with Less: The Upside of Downsizing Your Life…
This chapter is full of ideas on how to live in the real world, which never says “no” to anything and is always seeking to gain more and more. How do we shake off that mentality and truly live with less?
1. Live below your means rather than above them.
No more trying to keep up with your friends and neighbors. Just because everyone has a smartphone does not mean you need one too, especially when that will crank up your cell phone bill by at least another $30 a month. Find ways to lower your standard of living, and I am NOT talking about groceries. If you read our backstory the other day, you will know that at our lowest financial point, we got rid of cable television, cell phones, and even our pets. I do not get manicures and pedicures. I do not even get haircuts. It is a choice I make to live below our means. Your choices might not need to be as severe, but be honest with yourself and choose what you NEED versus what you WANT.
2. Buy things for the usefulness rather than their status.
Name brands are just a label. Choose your purchases based on reliability, not on what is the most popular or the flashiest.
3. Don’t believe the hype.
We resemble that family in the book that talks back to the television. When a credit card advertisement or even a Walmart ad comes on boasting the best for the lowest, one of us will put on our best southern, country preacher voice and shout, “It’s a lie from the pit of hell!” Marketing is intended to make your believe the details instead of the core truth. Look beyond the marketing.
There are things in my home that I keep holding on to thinking, “One day, that will fit.” “One day, I will have time to sew something out of that.” “One day, I will read those books again.” And yet, year after year they collect dust. Time to get rid of it.
5. Spend wisely. See your money as God’s possession, not your’s.
This is one of those that is easier to say than to actually do. But, the strangest thing in our lives is that we are better at it when we have nothing than when we have much. I think that is why God keeps us so dependent on Him, focused on the fact that every dollar is given to us with a purpose. It all belongs to God and we need to figure out what He wants us to do with it.
6. Leave room for extravagance.
When we talk about our annual vacation to the beach, some people cock an eyebrow. Some family members even poke fun at our choice to spend a week in a condo. But, this is our one splurge each year and I consider it an investment. We are away from the phone and the hustle of our normal lives. We are building memories with our family and getting re-accuainted with one another. We cannot wait to get there and hate to leave. It comes up in conversation all through the year and Lira even has the room number memorized (since we use a friend’s condo.) You have to leave a little room for extravagance, just make your choices wisely.
7. Invest your resources in people, not stuff.
Back to our vacation as an example. It would be so easy to take that money and buy something like a couple of new smartphones or Bill’s new attraction… an iPad (keep dreaming, Honey). Instead, we invest our money into something that will build our relationships with one another.
8. Give to your local church.
Unless you are under bankruptcy (where charitable giving is against the law), you should be giving to your local church. God expects it. I even wonder about the bankruptcy thing. It is something I toss back and forth.
9. Enjoy what you have as a gift from God.
Sometimes, it is easy for me to be dragged into this stessed-out, bitter state of mind which bemoans for just “…a little bit more.” Instead, I should focus on what we have because it is all a gift.
10. Avoid becoming a legalistic jerk.
Remember that we are not the judge of how another person spends their money. We are repsonsible before God for our own choices and they are responsible for their’s. If someone asks for your input, lovingly give it but do not offer your opinion unabashedly. When those thoughts sneak in… you know the ones that chant what a better person you are because you made such-and-such choice, change the subject in your brain.
When you reach the end of the list… start over.
Which of these tips do you think you struggle with the most?
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