Do You Want To Live For Stuff Or Live For Life?
How Many Quality Hours Per Day Do You Spend With Family?
Yes, I Am Becoming a Fanatic
And I’m proud of it!
I don’t expect the younger members of my reading audience to understand. They have no frame of reference. They did not live, as I did, fifty years ago when consumerism was just starting to really spread its disease. They did not learn at an early age how to fix things, how to do without luxuries, or how to squeeze a nickel until the buffalo poops.
Those who are in their twenties have always known consumerism. Credit has always been a way of life for many of them. The concept of only buying things that you can afford is foreign for many. Buying according to needs rather than wants? Are you kidding me they say? Where’s the fun in that?
So I understand where they are coming from. Now I’m going to explain where I am coming from. You see, I have some perspective, and I speak from experience. I have seen the spending habits of our society change over the last half-century. I have watched as the middle class disappeared, and I have witnessed the great rise of the economic aristocracy who have climbed over the discarded bodies of the working man to sit atop their luxury condos.
I have seen consumerism dig its talons into the average man and woman and not let them go until they were writhing on the ground bleeding cash and slowing the bleeding with credit.
Yes, I have watched, and I have shaken my head in dismay, because I know….I know….that there is a better way to live.
Let me give you some statistics to chew on.
An Average Day
The latest statistics for the year 2011:
The average size home in the U.S. is 2,480 square feet; average family size is 2.6 people. That computes to 954 square feet of living space per person. In 1950 the average family was larger but the living space PER FAMILY was only 983 square feet.
The average American spends 43.2 minutes each day shopping. That is 261 hours per year or the equivalent of 6 ½ work weeks spent on shopping. Women shop more, a whopping 399 hours per year, or 8 ½ years of shopping if they reach the age of 63.
Americans spend, on average, 21.5 hours weekly maintaining their stuff; this figure includes cleaning, laundry, sewing, household management, lawn and garden car, repair and purchasing goods and services.
The amount of time on maintenance almost triples by the time Americans reach 65 years of age.
Let’s put it another way. Let’s look at the average day of a U.S. citizen.
During a 24 hour day, the average American spends:
- 8 hours sleeping
- 1.5 hours preparing for work and commuting to work
- 9.5 hours taking care of possessions and working
- 5 hours living and enjoying life
So, out of an average day, our intrepid citizens actually kick back and enjoy life, family, and friends five hours out of every twenty-four.
So, are you average? Worse than average? Better than average? Are you spending more than five hours each day enjoying life, or less? Are you spending more than five hours per day focusing on your children, on your relationships, and on a quality life, or less?
Even If You Are Average
Seriously my friends, is this how you envisioned your life when you were a teen? Spending eleven hours per day in the pursuit of consumerism and only five hours per day enjoying life?
In all fairness, I should tell you how I fare when compared to the national averages:
- 7 hours sleeping
- 8 hours working
- 1/2 hour taking care of possessions
- 8 1/2 hours living and enjoying life
So I’m doing better with the whole “enjoying life” thing, but I’m still not happy with those figures, and quite frankly you shouldn’t be either.
I have some good news for you: it does not have to be this way. You can change those figures so that you are spending more time enjoying your life.
Try This Little Experiment
If you were to get rid of everything in your home that you do not need, how much extra space would you have? Let me put it another way: would all of the items you need fit into a smaller home if you discarded all the stuff you don’t need?
Keep going with me. If you got rid of the stuff and lived in a smaller home of 983 square feet, would the upkeep be less? Would the mortgage be less?
If you cut back on your credit spending, would your bills be less? If your bills and your mortgage were less would you have to work as much?
If you worked less would you be able to spend more time living life?
Fine, you say you don’t want to live in a smaller home. No problem; let’s take a different angle.
Let’s say for the next six months you cut back on buying “wants” by 50%. You cut back on buying furniture, knick-knacks, useless convenience items, etc. If you do that, would the “upkeep” hours diminish? Of course they would; it’s only logical that they do.
Let’s say you eliminated credit and for the next six months you only buy according to needs. Would you need more money then? No, you would not, and if you need less money would you need to work less? Of course you could work less, and working less means more time spent with family and friends.
See how this works?
Why This Doesn’t Work for Many
I’m a realist by nature. I am not a bubbly, Pollyanna optimist nor am I a grumpy, discouraged, dark cloud pessimist. I’ve observed life long enough now so that very few things surprise me, especially the actions of my fellow men and women.
Many people simply don’t give a damn about self-sufficiency and quite frankly, many people love consumerism. They like to play with their toys. They love the feeling of security and comfort they get from living in 3,000 square feet. They love their boats and diamonds and three cars and all the latest gadgets that money can buy, and they see nothing wrong with working their asses off for those luxuries. Well, I’m not here to pass judgment. If that’s what they like then I wish them well.
But there are others who are struggling and can’t seem to get ahead no matter how hard or long they work. There are others who barely see their children during the week because of long hours at the job. There are others who want to change but are afraid to try or feel trapped but don’t know what to do.
And it is to those people that I say just consider my arguments for awhile and see if you can spot the logic in them. Very few people are truly trapped in their living situation. They have just made decisions that leave them feeling trapped. There is a huge difference between the two.
One Last Personal Note
I have an online friend who has lived a very similar life as I have lived….it is almost eerie when I think about it. Like me she earned a six-figure income. Like me she was homeless. Like me she now embraces self-sufficiency and like me she is taking steps to move to the country and live a completely self-sufficient lifestyle.
There are others like us, others who finally woke up one day and realized that when you die, they don’t back up a UHaul truck at your gravesite and unload your possessions.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)