Living Below Your Means (was: Re: The Pause that Refreshes)

From: Rob Sweeney (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 14:39:42 MDT

Brian D Williams wrote:
> I have undertaken a LBYM (live below your means) lifestyle for the
> last several months, and would like to sing it's praises.
> [...]
> I am currently pursuing a more advanced state of what could be
> termed "voluntary simplicity" in pursuit of this goal.
This seems to be a common theme amongst recent messages (re: altamira's
introduction message for example). I wonder if it's a common lifestyle
throughout this community?
Recently I've been watching the behavior of a relative of mine who's been
going through a marital separation which is putting a bit of financial
pressure on her. She's a typical suburban American with stereotypical
motivations far as I can see; she comes home from work and plops down in
front of the TV for the evening, has the usual credit card debt, car loan,
etc. She's never not been in debt, yet she's not in real trouble, she can
manage what she has.
>From one conversation to the next her position on financial matters changes.
She'll be worried about money one day, and the next she'll be mentally shopping
for new cars - this despite the aforementioned financial pressure.

It made no sense to me 'till one evening I myself was watching the tube,
and started taking note of just how many of the commercials I was watching
were ads for cars. It's about 40% during evening TV by my
crude measurements. The result seemed straightforward to me: if you
spend most of your free time watching targeted messages telling you
to buy something, you'll find yourself wanting to do so. (if I watch
enough TV I find myself fantasizing about, oh, say, a new 'Vette.. some
things _are_ worth the money :-))
For myself, I've almost always lived below my means - not necessarily
simply (I live in Manhattan and have the usual toys in my apartment,
though the stereo is 11 yrs old - my vice is expensive bicycles..)
and not necessarily by a conscious choice to do so - I just don't
feel motivated to acquire the costly baggage most people have, so my expenses
are low relative to many people around me. (you know, those Wall
Street yuppies!). I don't value big houses or fancy cars - at least,
not at the levels that the general population appears to. In fact, I
find that posessions almost make me nervous - it's _stuff_ that I have
to take care of - if I want to travel, or take a job in another city, or
whatever, I have to move this _stuff_ around or make it go away somehow.
The more I think about it, the more I value freedom - physical, get-up-and-go
freedom, and positive numbers in my accounts. And I can always buy stuff
with those positive numbers, if I want.

I wonder if extropians have resistance to consumerist memes, if only because
we pay attention to information sources other than consumerist media?

/rs Rob Sweeney
Time is a warning.

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