I have changed so much in the past year. It started slowly, in fits and starts. I started things then didn’t follow through. I tried things and they didn’t work for me. I’m finally settling on things that work in my life and it’s cool.
A year ago I was part of the target market for every corporation in America just about. Not quite middle aged with money to spend and kids to buy for. I’m not quite the 18-25 target market, but I’m still an attractive customer. I was an unrepentant consumer of everything. I generated copious amounts of waste and, when something broke or got outdated I bought a new, improved one. That’s the way I grew up and that’s the way I stayed until recently.
We aren’t rich but I was acting like money was no object. We were always spending just a little bit more than we made. One day my son carelessly broke a toy and, when I asked him what happened he said, “I broke it. It’s OK, we can just get another one. This time can I have [the better one]?” It’s hard to have a little, child-sized mirror held up to your face to show you just exactly how you behave. It sounded so horrible coming from his little mouth but that’s what I’d been teaching him. That’s what started this whole thing.
I started reading about thrift and so many of the books I read talked about how the author had learned these tricks from their thrifty parents. I started getting discouraged because I don’t have thrifty parents. But, plenty of people have gotten out of debt and saved for things. And there are skills to this thrift thing just like with everything. I am a very good student. And, if I can get it going now, my kids will have thrifty parents from whom to learn all those tips and tricks.
I have a long way to go, but even a late bloomer can do this. It’s not terribly easy to go from unbridled consumerism to eco-friendly and thrifty, but it’s possible. It hasn’t taken that long and we’re about to pay off one of the cars. That’ll make three debts paid off with only two more to go. The most significant one is being saved for last, but I know we can do it now, we’ve already had some successes.
The one thing that I’ve learned is that not everything is right for everyone. You have to be willing to try new things and fail at them. You have to figure out what your actual priorities are. You have to be willing to rearrange your life at least a little and be willing to give things up if they don’t fit with those priorities. Most of all you need to see it as positive change. You’re not giving things up for the sake of sacrifice, you’re giving things up that just don’t work in your life anymore and substituting things that do. It’s fun to make bread even if your family doesn’t eat it instead of store-bought (punching it down is a great stress reliever). Hanging laundry actually makes it easier to keep up with it if you do it every day. Snuggling under a blanket in a house that’s a couple of degrees cooler during the winter is never a bad thing.
You have to see the change as an evolution, not a series of sacrifices. I am entering another stage of my life. One where I become a better steward of resources and a conscious consumer rather than just a consumer. I am learning from other people, books, articles, and anywhere I can find information. Each new trick and tip makes me better at what I do or at least teaches me what’s possible. Some of them have inspired ideas for new ways to do things. Just remember, you are a gosh-darned butterfly. You’re evolving and metamorphosing into a better version of yourself. One who live the life they have always wanted.