I’m on a quest to simplify my life. Recently I’ve begun to cut my budget, declutter my house, and cut down on my time commitments. As I’ve been working on these things, I’ve had a lot of time to think. Perhaps it’s the sociology major in me, but I’m fascinated by the behavior of groups of people.
I started thinking about how Americans live their lives today, as opposed to how my grandparents lived their lives. My grandparents were survivors of the Great Depression. I remember doing a high school project, in which I interviewed my grandparents about the Great Depression. Fascinating stuff.
They told me stories of not having money, of neighbor helping neighbor. They told me of the fun they used to have just playing outside, a free activity. They told me of having to wear their clothes until they were tattered, and then mending them so they could be worn longer. My grandparents’ generation was the epitome of frugal.
Then I thought about how Americans live their lives today. We’re not satisfied with a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1000 square foot starter home. No, we need 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 2000 square feet. The average new car is around $30,000. That’s more than I paid for my first home! (It was a manufactured home, but still).
We buy clothes that we never end up wearing. We buy our kids more toys for Christmas than they could possibly ever appreciate. We think nothing of spending $4 for a cup of coffee….every morning. (I used to be guilty of this). We eat out 3 times a week. (I used to be guilty of this too). We need 52 inch high definition televisions and 200 channels. We think nothing of paying $200 for a pair of jeans.
What has happened to America? Why do we spend so much? Why do we waste so much? I don’t have the answers. I assume that it is partly to do with the easy availability of credit. Whatever the reason, I think it’s sad. I think we are doing a disservice to our children by teaching them that they need to have the biggest and best of everything. We teach them that things should be easily available, and we don’t teach them to work for what they have. We’ve created a society of entitlement, and I don’t want my children to feel entitled.
When I began blogging about being frugal in May, it started as a means to get out of debt. But as my blog has evolved, so have I. I notice things about myself and about society that I don’t like. Being frugal has become more to me than trying to get out of debt. It’s become a mission to become the best steward I can be of the blessings God has given me. Getting out of debt isn’t good enough. Living a life that reflects my reverence to God and leaving a legacy of frugality for my children is more important. I will eventually pay off the debt. I can’t ever see myself giving up my frugal lifestyle.
If you have any thoughts on why we Americans are the way we are, please share! I’m fascinated by this subject, and I’d love to hear your opinion!