I decided I would save my family money by painting our kitchen myself. I’m a pretty good painter, a friend who is an interior designer helped me choose paint colors, and Home Depot offered a rebate on paint. The kitchen looks great but three days later I could hardly move; I threw out my back.
This period of pain seemed to be only helped by reclining and, therefore watching TV. I got to watch several episodes of “Naked and Afraid,” on the Discovery Channel which tracks a man and a woman trying to survive in a variety of settings. Some made it, some didn’t. The most crucial components of survival was finding a source of water, making a fire to boil the water (or risk becoming ill) and to cook whatever food was caught, finding said food and building a shelter. Oh, and warding off spiders, scorpions, snakes and other critters.
It was clear that the two “survivors” were dependent on each other and had to work hard to support one another.
This got me thinking (my husband says that I think too much) about basic survival and how far most of us are from that. Think about it. Think about the (physical) comfort and (physical) security you currently enjoy and that you can devote your energy to other pursuits such as art, sports, reading, music, hobbies etc.
I recently shared a blog post by Mr. Money Mustache, a frugal favorite, titled “Happiness is the Only Logical Pursuit.” (I tried to give you the link but that’s not allowed, probably because MMM very much wants to control his content and traffic, and I don’t blame him.) In the post he describes Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with basic living essentials at the bottom and self actualization (“be all you can be”) at the top of the pyramid. He creates this visual adeptly. He inserts the idea of how consumption affects all the levels of the hierarchy; for good and for evil.
The Minimalists wrote this great book titled Everything That Remains. There are so many quotes I could share with you from that book but we’d be here all day; just read the book. One I will include in this post about survival is, “Sure, I need money to pay for the basics, but I don’t need to struggle earn money to buy crap I don’t need anymore. This thing called minimalism has allowed me to get rid of life’s excess so I can focus on what’s essential.” (I wrote about the benefits of minimalism in regards to budgeting previously.)(I will say it’s likely much easier for two bachelors to embrace the idea of minimalism than a married-with-kids person, just sayin’.)
But the idea gives me pause.
Do I “need” the crystal cake plate given to us for our wedding that I’ve honestly used only once?
Will my Linked In connections determine my success as a financial planner?
Will Great Britain’s leaving the European Union change the trajectory for my financial life?
No, of course not.
But you must think about these aspects of life when you sort through the clutter in your life and decide where to focus your energy and what to simply let go. (Let me know if you want the cake platter.)
Money can give us the illusion of feeling “secure.” But security is not found in money. The money is an indication that you don’t have to ask anyone for help; a way of stating that you got your you-know-what together and you can support yourself; that you are self-sufficient. That’s not the same thing as security and, sometimes, no matter how much money you have, you may never feel secure.
Security is found in personal resilience, living a life of purpose, and in maintaining good, respectful relationships based on common values and goals.
Back to our naked-and-afraid survivors. In several episodes inevitably one becomes ill or injured and cannot do the work of finding water, gathering firewood/making a fire and/or hunting for food. The well-survivor picks up the slack. The well-survivor does not hoard the water and food out of spite or greed but, rather, shares and tends to his/her companion. That’s the deal.
Our insecurity (especially around money) is most likely a feeling of insecurity in a relationship, that the other person will not have our backs. Okay, another quote from Everything That Remains, “But many of the things we cling to in search of security actually drain the satisfaction from our lives, leaving us discontented and overwhelmed…Discontentment is uncertainty. And uncertainty is insecurity. Hence, if you are not happy with your situation, no matter how comfortable it is, you won’t ever feel secure.”
That’s a lot for noon on a Friday but there you have it. You know I don’t mentally swim in the shallow end 😉
Take away: Create a Self-worth statement listing all of your assets (talents, skills, abilities, attributes) and the areas you will strengthen (such as limiting beliefs, scarcity mindsets, etc.) by devoting your time and energy to them.
Be the survivor, not the cake plate.
And please share this with someone you love. Most people don’t know the first thing about money management and this blog is a safe place that allows them to learn about this challenging aspect of human life in a judgment-free zone.