Michelle McGagh's inspiration for jumping off the treadmill of constant consumption was Buy Nothing Day and the minimalism movement. She's six months in and has struggled at times, but says it has made her happier, which is a common theme running through the stories of people who have drastically reduced their spending: it not only makes them more financially secure, it also enriches their lives in other more profound ways, such as becoming more grateful for what they have.
Not everybody is applauding Michelle (and other non-spenders) though. On The Guardian's Facebook pages, one woman commented:
Oh shut up you booger eating bed wetting idiot liberal, POOR people do this every fucking dayThis comment garnered 26 'likes' and supportive replies from several others. Harsh, but true, of course. A lot of people don't have the luxury of choosing not to spend their money on non-essentials and frivolities.
As a new member of the non-spenders (or less-spenders), I cringed a little when I read the comment. If I were poor, I'd be pretty insulted too (or I should say, 'if I were still poor' - my family background is solidly working class battler).
But then I thought, I think it's just as insulting - if not more so - to splash your cash on non-essentials and frivolities you don't even use. Behold my shoe closet as big as your bedroom with its 300 pairs of shoes that cost more than you earn in a month and barely have a scuff on them. (No, I do not have 300 pairs of shoes).
If you have the money available for discretionary spending, buying stuff you use and appreciate is less like rubbing the noses of the less fortunate in it, isn't it?
All you need, you already have."As you sit here reading this article, pause and take an assessment of your life right now. Chances are, you have enough food, clothing, shelter, and other basic necessities in your life. You might also have loved ones, people who care about you. You are (mostly) comfortable, without any desperate needs. All you need, you already have."
He lists ideas for how to practice "enough-ness", including asking yourself before buying something whether you really need it or if you have enough.
"Ask yourself, regularly throughout your day, whether you have all you need. I think you’ll find that you do, and by appreciating that fact more often, you can see what a profound miracle that is."
Profound miracle indeed.