How to let your people down gently
photo credit: Iain Farrell

A while back I wrote a blog entitled On Frugality. In our dualistic world, the other side of frugality is consumption. I often reflect on the classic phrase you are what you eat, when I think about consumption. Let me explain.

What you consume doesn’t only apply to food. It also applies to what is consuming your thoughts. This leads to the other “economic” meaning of consumption: the consumption of goods. For me, this happens to me when I get the newspaper and see all the neat advertisements inserted inside. They have glossy pictures of all the new things that I want. The colors are so vibrant I can almost feel the item in my hands. Lately, for me it has been an all-in-one laser jet printer, fax, scanner from Brothers. Every time my printer has an issue, which is usually when I have a lot of printing to do, I think about that Brother’s all-in-one printer and imagine a carefree hassle-less printer world where I just click print and hundreds, if not thousands of documents print without a problem. That’s when my thoughts on frugality hit me and I am pulled back into reality by my needs versus my wants. My printer works fine. I just want a new one.

My point is that the idea of a new printer consumes my thoughts. I ran across a newsletter that got me thinking about this subject. The article states:

In The Man in the Mirror, Patcick Morley writes that the word consumption means something totally different to modern people that it did 150 years ago. Consumption, now know as tuberculosis, is a wasting disease. “Before the advent of antibiotics, tuburculosis could be slowed but rarely cured,” Morley writes. “The long term effect of the disease was to slowly devour – to consume – all the victim’s health and vigor.”

Today, consumption is viewed as a positive for merchants and the economy, Morley notes. But for people mired in debt, “the 19th-century understanding of the term may be more true-to-life.” Our wants are consuming us.

Those people “mired in debt” are experiencing the financial detriment of consumption. It is precisely for those people that I started my blog Thinking Beyond Numbers. If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.

So how does one change their thinking so that they do not become mired in debt? The article, which was from my church newsletter, goes on to state:

To avoid being consumed financially – and spiritually – consider these words from Jesus: “Store up for yourselves treasurers in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do no break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mathew 6:20-21, NRSV).

My interpretation is that by changing your focus away from consumption and thinking about the simple things in life, we not only better ourselves financially by living within our means, but spiritually, we also find new treasures.

Interestingly enough, in my experience as a financial advisor, I find that those people that are less focused on stuff, and more focused on relationships, are usually far more wealthy than those who have all the latest gadgets, like an all-in-one  Brothers printer.

I’ll end this post with a quote from an unknown source that I enjoy and share on my facebook profile:

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money”….and stuff!