Live Better by Owning Less

Worldwide economic turmoil has stifled economic growth as well as stagnating personal income levels. The economy has left many people wondering how they can properly save for retirement, or if they will ever be able to retire at all.  Most intelligent people understand the power of compound interest and the need to start saving earlier rather than later. But when they struggle to meet today’s expenses, it is hard to see how to save for tomorrow.  There are only two logical solutions to this dilemma, earn more or spend less.  Many people can simply not find things that they are willing to give up, to spend less and save more.  They equate less spending to a lower standard of living and quality of life.  That is not necessarily true and may just require a change of attitude about what is important in life.

Most of the world, by UK standards, lives in extreme poverty.  A trip to the 3rd world will show one a world without proper food, housing and basic sanitation and people living with few worldly possessions.  Such a trip may also surprise westerners, because in the midst of such poverty, they will see smiles and contentment.  It can be a mind-opening experience.  An aware person can learn a great lesson from their contentment. Happiness need not be dependent upon consumerism. We are not what we own.  Our self-worth and happiness is generally too dependent upon what we own.  Divesting one’s self of unnecessary clothing and household possessions can be a cathartic activity. It can help hit the reset switch, in your mind, about what is really important in life.

A simple exercise is to do a nearly complete wardrobe change.  Go through your closets and remove all the items that do not properly fit or you have not worn in quite some time. Remove duplicate items and pare down items that are extremely similar to each other.  Try to just keep items that are stylish, but comfortable and relaxed feeling.  Some famous people have adopted such practices, such as Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerburg, who will wear grey t-shirts and blue jeans and tennis shoes every day of his life. When asked why, he will say that he just has more important things to do in life than to worry about what to wear. Even US President Obama cut his wardrobe down to just grey and black suits.  After your great clothing purge, consider giving most of the clothing to charities. If you would like to recoup some of your monetary investment in the clothing, consider selling items online or at a consignment shop. You then could use that money to remake your wardrobe in a modern, casual style, at a shop such as Boden, taking care to choose items that work well together stylistically. On any given day, you can then mix and match and vary your choices.  By the time you have completed this task, the change within you will have started. You will start to look at other possessions and life priorities in a different manner.

It will result in a stress relieving simplification of life and a happier, more carefree attitude.  You will most likely end up spending less and saving more.  The stress of preparing for retirement will be relieved.  You will find less and less value in material consumer goods and find more value in experiences and relationships.  The happiness you achieve from this new point of view will make you feel truly wealthy.

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