I thought I would throw this out there because sometimes I think about it.
This article will be most beneficial to those that are just about to enter the world of work.
Once you leave school and start work it seems as though life is very focused towards accumulating “stuff”: furniture, crockery, cutlery, electronics (TVs, phones, iPads), so on and so forth. The list is pretty endless because by the time you have everything, you’re already tired of the initial purchases so you start wanting replacements.
Even where an item still works, you simply want something newer, a better model or just more! It’s exhausting. You think it will make you happier but really, you’re just happy because you have what everyone else around you has. If they had nothing you also be semi-content with nothing.
If you go to your village your don’t find them complaining about the lack of a fridge and a TV, they just want the luxury of three square meals a day.
How much faster could you get yourself out of the rat race if you shunned the insatiable quest for “stuff” for proper wealth accumulation?
Imagine this world:
You get a well-paying job but instead of getting the best car you can afford you get a very basic yet functional car. Better still, you walk or cycle to work most of the time.
In your free time you don’t waste money on alcohol and keeping up with the neighbours’ kitchen and living room. Instead, you purchase a few good quality items when you can afford them – no more. You spend a little more to buy durable items because you don’t want to keep replacing them.
All excess money is saved so you can buy your own house; your very own piece of real estate.
When you eventually own your home you don’t waste money cramming each and every corner and surface with things you can ill afford. Instead, you go for a minimalist, stylish look.
You also don’t buy gadgets just because everyone has them. You own a small 12-inch TV screen and peoples’ negative and sarcastic comments do nothing to faze you. You know when the time is right you will get a large TV – if you want one. You would rather have less today for more tomorrow.
This is actually my ideal life; it’s the life I used to live. I still had a black and white phone screen when friends who earned less than half of what I did were on the newest smartphones.
I aspire toward minimalism and that aspiration helped me save A LOT of money. I liked myself when I was more of a minimalist than I am now. People laughed at my tiny TV and I didn’t care – then, after a certain point I started spending too. Although I only ever spend money that I actually have I think I spend far too liberally and yet, owning more doesn’t make me any happier than owning less did.
If anything, it makes me less happy because I could be using that same money to clear my mortgage.
My reasoning is, you only live once and I after eight years of being abstemious I should allow myself a little fun.
Ultimately, however, I promise you that if you make the conscious decision to live the minimalist life you will be no less happy than you currently are. You might even be more happy as you see you bank balance kaboom!
“Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like.” Will Smith
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.