I have been reviewing the budget here at Barefoot Manor just lately, and it never fails to astonish me how much money we bring in compared to our perception of how much money we have.
I think that is a pretty common problem.
I read somewhere (forgot where) that humans are hardwired to judge their success by comparing themselves to the others around them. If you aren't doing "better" than those around you, you aren't doing well at all.
Seems silly when you think about it.
It seems that it would be much more logical and healthy to judge our success by our ability to meet our needs and live a fulfilling life, doesn't it?
Back to the budget thing.... When I look at our finances, I realise that we have enough money to pay our bills and have a few luxuries on top of that. Of course, my idea of luxury includes Cable TV, so my idea of luxury might not be the same as others', but still. You get the idea. We even have the money to pay down our debt in a reasonable amount of time.
It makes me wonder where all our cash-ola goes. I always feel like we are struggling to just get by, but when I look at the numbers that is just not true.
The answer is really, really simple. We haven't been thinking lately.
That is the trick of this whole Voluntary Simplicity thing. You have to think about what you are doing. It is so easy to just go with the flow, turn you brain off, and fill your shopping basket with stuff that you don't really need. It is so easy to run through the drive-thru or pick up frozen pizzas or (heaven forbid) order out rather than go home and cook something real.
The thing is, though, that you never really get satisfaction living this way.
Once you start trying to buy happiness and fulfillment, things get out of control really quickly. I read somewhere else (again, I have no idea where) that the human mind is hardwired to constantly want MORE. Once you feed a desire, another desire rises to take it's place.
I totally agree with that concept, from personal experience.
To make the whole situation a little more complicated, most folks cannot separate the idea of not having things by choice from not being able to have things. They figure that if you choose not to purchase a shiny new ditsel-blat that you can't afford it.
I even see folks do this to themselves. They have money in the bank (or in their pocket), and they start looking for something to spend it on. It doesn't matter that they have met all their true needs and the most fulfilling of their wants. They have money, so they need to have something to show for it. Whether that manifests itself in a car or a shiny gold pen doesn't really matter. The spending is what matters.
Now, it would be wonderful if we could all go find mountain tops to sit on and contemplate The Meaning of Life and divorce ourselves from this basic human drive of desiring. I think we would probably run out of mountain tops pretty quickly, though.
I don't even think that wanting things is necessarily a bad thing. It is the motivation for us all to improve our lives. The trick is to learn to want things that are going to actually feed our souls and be satisfying in a lasting manner.
Anyway, that is what I have been thinking about lately. I have been wondering exactly how much of my time and $$ I have been wasting on mindlessness, and I am very afraid that the answer is horrible.
Still, it is never too late to change.