A modest life is a life to be proud of

Everyone has different ideas of what a modest life entails, but for me it’s not being dragged into the whole consumerism, materialistic way of life to a point that it has you living outside your means or being extravagant.

It means you don’t go into debt for a big-screen TV or a luxury car, you don’t spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery and shoes each year. You don’t buy designer clothes, or borrow money for extravagant holidays.

It means you live within your means, disregarding what this does to the way people see you.

So many people complain about not having enough money, yet they drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have Foxtel and a big-screen TV and drive a brand new car that they have borrowed money for, and spend a fortune on takeaway and junk food.  They sell their house and upgrade to a bigger home with a bigger mortgage so they can fit all their stuff in that they found one sale somewhere sometime but never use. They put their immediate comfort and their ‘facade’ in front of long-term benefits such as being debt-free.

People have forgotten what a real need is. They have forgotten that in the 1960s a family of five quite happily fit into a house with 3 bedrooms and one living area. They forget that a car that is over 10 years old can still drive them from A to B.  They forget that they live a quite privileged life compared to many and that they are so much luckier than they think they are.

They still look around them and want what everyone else has whether or not they can afford it, need it, or have room for it.

I get really frustrated when I hear how “tough” people are doing it, when I know very well many of these people are in debt because they lived beyond their means.  They did it because they couldn’t tell the difference between a need and a want. They didn’t ‘save for a rainy day’ and instead told themselves “I deserve this”.

People who lead modest lives are happier than those that don’t. They are more financially stable. They are self-sufficient and live within their means. They are leaders, not followers. They accept their life as it is and don’t strive for excess. They give freely of themselves. They aren’t overly concerned with what others think of them, and are therefore more uninhibited and self-assured.

How does one live a modest life?

  • Don’t buy things just because everyone else has one, unless you can afford to buy 3 of them without debt (and then still only buy 1!)
  • Recognise that at the end of your life, you will not be remembered for your designer shoes
  • Understand that you are still a valuable person without all the ‘stuff’
  • Learn to be content with what you have, and enjoy what you have instead of wanting more all the time
  • Don’t go into debt for anything other than the necessities (food and shelter, essentially – and that doesn’t count luxury resorts!)
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s, and be proud of not buying into the hype
  • Remember to look long-term and not just for the short-term ‘hit’ that buying something new gives you

There is nothing to be ashamed of in living a modest life, but so very much to be proud of.


On a personal note:

I am not infallible nor am I a monk – sometimes I don’t live a modest life, despite generally trying to. When I bought myself an iPad (I tried to tell myself I ‘needed’ it for work but to be honest, I mostly play and read on it), I was being more extravagant than I normally would, even though I could afford it and did pay cash, because I didn’t really need it.  Sometimes I yearn for a bigger wardrobe, more shoes or a guest room in my house(or a bigger house), or a flash new sofa because I’m tired of the old one. And I was very keen to upgrade our car earlier this year – to the point of nagging!

But  most of all, I live within my means and without extravagance, as does the rest of my family. We’re not overly frugal but we’re not careless either.

Our family is debt-free (and we worked hard to get that way – it wasn’t handed to us on a platter) and we save as much as we can, whilst still enjoying our life.  Our home is not large or fancy, but it’s nice and we all fit just fine and we resist the urge to spend our savings on upgrading. When we last bought a new car (we had had our other one for almost 12 years) we spent around 10% of what we could actually afford to spend in cash and it was still a nice, shiny new (less than one year old) car and I still love it to pieces. The rest of the money is earning interest for us while the small investment is driving me around!

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Comments

  1. Thabiso Dlamini says:

    Great article really enjoyed reading it. I am in the pursuit of happiness and I believe in living a modest life. I used to aspire to be rich and have all of these things which will make people look at me but now I believe that is overrated.

  2. Rebecca I completely get this post. We only ever pay cash for anything. It’s a great way to understand what living in your means is! If I don’t have the money I can’t get it. If I really need it but don’t have the money for it now I layby and pay it off. that said I still only layby if I know I can factor the payments into my budget. No credit cards in our house…or overflowing cupboards filled with stuff I will never use.

  3. I know for a fact that all that you are saying bout yourself and your family is true, thanks for the wakeup Rebecca…

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