Finances are something on my mind lately. This piece in the Atlantic sparked a conversation at a friend’s gathering, and while I was on the periphery listening in, something became startlingly clear. I am not doing as well financially as a majority of my friends.
There are a whole host of reasons for this. I have two kids, while many of my friends only have one, and theirs are school-aged instead of still in daycare. My husband downshifted his career a few times–some on purpose, some because he was forced to. We just plain earn less than a lot of our peers. There’s also a reason that I’m not proud of or comfortable with, but it’s true all the same. I’ve spent money I didn’t have because I was trying to keep up with my friends.
I don’t begrudge my friends this. It’s not their fault that I am often uncomfortable saying, “I can’t afford to go out tonight,” or “let’s do something besides shopping.” It’s also not their fault that I compare myself to others, and lack the confidence to be different. Back in 2006, instead of saying “let’s rent a couple more years instead of buying,” I wanted a house partially because my friends were buying them.
But it’s time for that to stop. I am ready to start living my financial truth. It can be really hard to face the reality of your finances, but that’s where minimalism is so great. The minimalism philosophy says it’s OK to be different. It’s OK to opt-out of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s OK to fix something instead of buying a new one. It’s OK to live in a small space instead of upgrading to something larger. Being debt free is a goal and a virtue. Having the latest gadgets is not. And community and connection are at the heart of minimalism.
I’m so thankful I found out about minimalism and simple living when I did. I’ve been on a path that’s made me broke and unhappy for too long, and now I can see a different way. It may not be easy for me to get there, but I am glad that I have an idea of what I stand to gain by adopting this lifestyle.