Maybe I’m just being nostalgic (I am, admittedly, a little old-fashioned), but didn’t daily life used to be simpler? Before email, iPods, and DVRs, before cell phones, online banking, even before the internet, life was slower-paced…wasn’t it?
More Stuff = More Stress
I’ve long felt that more stuff = more stress. More gadgets, more cars, more activities…it all equates to more of us running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Did I remember to charge my iPod? Is that a new scratch on my fender? Didn’t I just mow the yard two days ago? The maintenance of it all is astounding!
More Stuff = More Debt
Keeping up with the Joneses is one of America’s favorite pastimes, and we have the collective credit card bill to show for it. The more stuff we accumulate, the higher our debt goes. Nearly 37% of us carry more than $10,000 of nonmortgage debt, according to MyFico.com. And we can’t blame this number on the current economy; we were at these levels well before jobs and incomes were being cut.
Now, we’re not only stressed about keeping up with all of our stuff, we’re also stressed about paying down our debt.
Just Say “No”
In a dead-end job and overloaded with credit card debt, Jeffrey Root took the plunge and moved back to his parents’ basement. He and wife Mandi just said “no” to trying to keep up with rent they couldn’t afford; “no” to having an extra car they didn’t really need; and “no” to buying expensive consumer gadgets.
“I realized people don’t know what it’s like to live without an iPod,” said Root, “I’d say we’re really spoiled … We really do need to look at what’s important.”
What’s important to them now is family. The Roots were reluctant at first to make the move in with his parents, but now they’re ecstatic to be there. They spend time together doing things on the cheap instead of splurging on big-ticket activities (i.e., camping over Disneyworld, books at home rather than going to the movies).
They’ve also cut their credit card debt in half. This boost to their credit score will save them money down the line through lower interest rates on auto loans, mortgages, or new lines of credit. Not that they’re looking for any of those at the moment.
For now, they’re enjoying a simpler life filled with less stuff, less stress, less debt, and more time together. Shouldn’t we all try to do the same?