To Live Poorly

An inspiring read that made me want to (a) reply and (b) reblog!

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4 thoughts on “To Live Poorly

  1. I applaud the sentiment in that blog: do what makes you happy, not what makes you rich. But the author doesn’t seem to have realised that you don’t have to be poor to be happy. It may be different in the US but over here there’s no need to ditch your credit cards. Just pay off the bill in full every month, avoiding the interest charges and keeping the convenience. And if you want to join your friends on their luxury cruise you’d have to flip burgers for a long, long time to earn the fare and the spending money you’d need, putting you right back where you started – in a dull and unfulfilling job that threatens to drive you crazy.

    No, living in poverty isn’t the path to happiness. It’s more complicated than that.

    (I speak as someone who once turned down a nearly 50% raise because I didn’t want to work for the company that made the offer.)

  2. I think it was once possible to live well without worrying about some kind of steady income, but poverty is no fun. You can’t just switch jobs and living spaces on and off that easily anymore. And jobs today, any job, even the most menial, is a “be available all the time” kind of thing because of cellphones and computers. If they expect you to work 70 hours a week anyway, a good salary is better than $12/hr.
    On the other hand, most of us could live well with much less stuff in our lives. (K)

  3. I agree with both of you. I am the author of that blog post and as I wrestle these ideas out in my life over the next while I hope to become more articulate with what I am wanting to achieve. However I think some of my words were misleading because in order to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ it is not exactly slipping into poverty that is the answer. No, it is far more complicated than that – I agree. The five year plan that I write about carries with it the expectation that I continue with my middle class income until such a time that I am debt free with a sizeable asset in way of my home. Then, having become debt free and in the process having learned a thing or two about living on very little I shall sell my home and relocate to a part of the country where the weather and surroundings are both more welcoming and familiar to my wife and I. There we shall purchase outright a small home, as small and modest as we can, without requiring a mortgage and we will continue living in this philosophy of “Living Poorly”.

    On paper and most definitely in this country we will be classified as poor – living below the poverty line and certainly well before retirement age, and in that sense we will have become ‘poor’ but in reality we will be quite wealthy. Wealthy in quality of life, without the expectation of building up one’s stock portfolio, or RRSP account, or simply a savings account. No, with our home taken care of we shall embrace a way of life that is merely an extension of what we are learning about now – trying to achieve now in this place and in this time. This way of life is one of simplicity, of minimalistic means and expectations.

    My theory is that to embrace this simple way of living – by learning to create things for oneself, and by casting aside vain expectations and societal expectations we will find contentment – we will find joy and more importantly we will be able to sustain both. Perhaps others better than me are able to find contentment and joy in their present situation – firmly established in their middle-income class, surrounded by their stuff in all shapes and sizes, balancing their debt load and still able to keep up to the Jones’. But, for me, my times of contentment and joy in the here and now are found when I don’t focus on those things but instead look for the simple in the complicated or when I purposefully disconnect from the rat-race around me.

    I am still working all of this out, thus my meandering thoughts from the perspective of a stranger but one thing I do know for sure is that I am loving the journey from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

  4. This detailed response is a lucid and engaging development of your original post and I thank you very much for taking the time to add it here. As you suggest and as the two previous respondents imply – I also thank them for their contributions – a willing move into poverty is very unlikely to bring happiness or even contentment by itself.

    What interested me though was the eloquent way you identify sources of unease and unhappiness in the lifestyle we’re all caught up in. Factoring in human satisfaction and the health of the environment (two considerations that don’t usually feature in economic models) the journey from ‘here’ to ‘there’, as you put it, is a valuable and honourable departure from the blind conformity that seems to have us all – or too many of us – hypnotised.

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