Day 333 What we sacrifice in the pursuit of stuff

Financial security is one thing to strive for but when does that cross the line to decadence?

We must be prepared to sacrifice certain things in order to eat well, put a roof over our heads, clothe ourselves and pay our utility bills and medical insurance. The main thing we give up here is usually our time since we need to work in order to pay for the basics. At what point do we then start to sacrifice more of our time and other things in order to pay for the things that aren’t a necessity.

Do we really need –

  • Homes larger than our needs dictate.
  • Cars bigger, newer and more expensive than required.
  • The latest and greatest techno gadgets.
  • Cable TV.
  • Beauty treatments and expensive hair styling.
  • More stuff in our homes than we can possibly fully use.
  • Replacing perfectly good items just because we feel like a change.
  • Expensive/excessive dietary items that are likely not healthy anyway.
  • Dining out on a regular basis.
  • So many toys for our children that they couldn’t possibly learn to appreciate any of them.
  • Expensive holidays.
  • And worst of all credit card interest that accumulates from buying things we really can’t afford.

I will stop here but that list could go on forever. In order to make more money to buy life’s “luxuries” we work longer hours and something has to give…

Family:-Unfortunately and sadly the first thing to be sacrificed is time with family. There are so many double income families out there whose children are in day care on a regular basis.  Some out of necessity just because of the cost of living, but there are many in this situation because they are just trying to keep up a standard of living that goes way beyond necessity.

Friends:- If we have a lack of time to spend with family it stands to reason that there isn’t going to be much time left for friends either.

Dreams:- We will often sacrifice the life we would really prefer for the one that earns us the most income. While we may be offered our dream job we would have to turn it down in preference to the one that pays more. While we might wish to start our own business we can’t afford to take the risk.

Health:- Working long hours and trying to make time for private lives and for ourselves can be very stressful and stress is not good for your  health. Often on top of that our diet can suffer due to doing everything fast including food. Add  lack of exercise and you have a recipe for disaster.

There are many other things we sacrifice but these are a some of the most crucial and important ones. Unfortunately modern society seems to place so much more value on professional position, qualifications and status symbols than it does on family and personal happiness.

I am sure every person reading this has fallen into this trap to some degree. Be it working too hard and sacrificing too much or just working to surround yourself with stuff you just don’t need while there are far more satisfying things you could be doing. Either way it is worth giving some serious thought, and working out what is really important to you.

Item 333 of 365 less things

Computer parts and cables that are no longer needed but have too little value to sell on ebay. I will have to check out local computer recyclers to see if they would like to take them off our hands.
Computer cables and disk drives

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Being left to sleep in – It made up for the fact that I went to bed late
  2. My ebay auctions are going well – Yes I finally got around to placing them.
  3. I am going out to dinner and a show tonight – It will be nice to spend some time with my old work mates.
  4. Having had the wisdom when young to give up the trimmings in order to stay home and raise our kids – That’s not to say we didn’t make other mistakes along the way where our money and time would have been better spent.
  5. Liam getting out and about with his friends this weekend – He must have been getting bored sitting around the house and spending all his time with his parents.


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. When I was growing up we didn’t always have the latest and greatest. We also didn’t go out to eat a lot or spend on things we didn’t need. Most of our furniture was kept a long time and maintained well. We were taught to take care of things so they would last. the only real “splurge” was the vacations in the summer when Dad and Mom would take us to “see the USA.” What a gift that was. By the time I was out of high school we had been in every state but Alaska and Hawaii and all the Canadian provinces but PEI, Newfoundland, and the Yukon. We live the same way for the most part. We take care of things so that we don’t have to replace them often. We buy what we need. We don’t have a closet full of clothes or purses or shoes. I even stopped buying many books. The library works well for reading. All of this makes a huge difference in our lives. We are much more content and happy this way I think.

    • Hi Deb J,
      your life now and in the past sound full of abundance not in material things but in love, caring and adventure. My life was very similar although I think I did get lost in materialism somewhere along the way but have now learned the lessons I need to learn and am back on track. I am happy to go without the excesses so we can enjoy a life of adventure for however long we last.

  2. Fortunately, like Deb J, my childhood was happy but not overrun by material possessions. And again, fortunately, my adulthood was focused on activities and experiences rather than the making of money and the buying of things. I am very happy it was like that and I’ve tried to teach the same values to my children. Do I own stuff I don’t need? Yes. But it doesn’t rule my life.

    • Hi Willow,
      good for you. I think it is clear that the newest generation are far more fixed on material things that those that went before. I instilled some good values in my children when it comes to this issue but didn’t do so well in the years we lived in America I think. My daughter in particular struggles with being materialistic and is in the process of writing a post for me at the moment about that very subject. I am looking forward to reading it and sharing it with you all.

  3. The lack of calm and harmony in my environment has been more a burden that financial woes, but clutter certainly has come at a cost.

    • Hi Cindy,
      I found this post very difficult to write and I felt I left a lot unsaid because there are so many variables and everyone’s situation is unique. We were smart enough and or fortunate enough never to have to live outside of what we could afford but we certainly were wasteful at times.

  4. Yet another wonderful, insightful post. It hurts how much you’re right. I am trying to be objective and can probably say that we don’t pursue the lifestyle that forces us to be a double income family. I like working mainly for its social aspect and the feeling it gives me that i’m doing something productive. I am not in a job that suits my character and natural interests though, something I have admitted to myself and I’m slowly shaping the idea of what I really want.
    This post had given me so much food for thought. Ever since returning to work after having my son, I had not been working full time and am refusing the idea of it, because I need that time with him and for him, as during the working days a couple of hours in the evening when we all return home, have dinner and play a little is simply not enough family time.
    But, I’m now seriously thinking of downsizing in every aspect and am inclined towards the idea of a smaller house like never before. We may need to make some big decisions in the next few months and I can tell you that this post had highlighted once more what the real priorities ARE. What a gem this blog is! Thank you.

    • Hi Ornela,
      thank you for that, I was a bit afraid that I may have come off a bit pompous. I have made enough of my own mistakes along the way but going without to stay home with my children wasn’t one of them. My husband and I worked well as a team. While he provided well for us I did my bit by making ends meet and taking care of things around the home and together we did well. All the liberated females out there would cringe at this comment but I am glad to have played my half in what has been and still is a great partnership. I wish you wisdom in your decision making and hope you can find a way to do what is best for yourself and everyone in your life.

  5. Your day 333 is so interesting… My husband was “Mr. Mom” to our 2 girls for 7 years… It is good that he is frugal because he did not make income of any sort during that time, although he did many household repairs, took the girls to story time, errands, etc… He did and still does all the cooking (a great partnership as far as I’m concerned, LOL)… I was unable to spend much during that time because of our situation, so I feel that once he started working again I went a little nuts buying too much (3 sets of sheets or towels where 2 would do, etc), buying things for a change instead of replacing things out of necessity… I wish I had gotten the decluttering bug a lot sooner, we could have saved more money… Now that our household is slimming down, I can buy less because I actually know what we have, how much we have, where it is… 🙂

    • Hi Peggy, what a great husband. It seems to me that going without during the time your husband raised the kids was well worth it. You soon figured out that the money gets wasted anyway. Better to have less and someone being there for the children than the other way around. I am glad that you caught the decluttering bug eventually, it can change your mindset about a lot of things.