by Shadra Bruce
There was a time when we thought the growth would never stop. The housing market was thriving, jobs were everywhere, and money was plentiful. Unfortunately, we forgot that the economy is cyclical, and many of us did not realize (or did not pay attention to) how precariously we were balanced on the brink of ruin.
The United States is considered one of the richest countries in the world, but underneath that thin sheen of wealth lies a thick layer of poverty. Even those considered part of the ever-dwindling middle class often have no source of savings. The American Dream evolved from the big house and the white picket fence to a big screen television and a BMW.
We have officially reached our spending limit, and the only direction that remains is down.
It is time to wake up and see reality.
Everything happens in cycles, and we are in the midst of the biggest financial crisis that this country has experienced since the Great Depression.
As a society and as individuals, we forgot how to be frugal. We love to have, and none of what we desire was or is sustainable. Middle-class America bought more house than they could afford, and now many are stuck with homes that will never regain their value. There are difficult choices to be made.
Our resources, both natural and artificial, are exhausting themselves.
It’s not too late.
We haven’t completely failed yet, and we still have the means to recover. The biggest change that everyone must undergo is to realize that it is not about how much you earn. You have to change your mindset, because it’s really about how much you spend.
It used to be simple to have a home, buy a car, and to buy everything that piqued your interest. Everyone had lines of credit, because we never dreamed that we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our debts. But with nothing to fall back on, things have to change.
The reality of America’s wealth is that it is incredibly superficial.
You must start by clearing away the illusions and realize that the way forward begins with being smarter with the money you have now and realizing you don’t need to have it all.
- Live simply
- Live within your means
- Barter and trade
- Ignore marketing ploys designed to part you from your money and make you want things you don’t need
- Work only enough to survive; thrive by volunteering, being part of your community, and encouraging sustainability
- Get rid of the extra cars, cable subscriptions, unlimited cell phone plans, and unnecessary debt
- Pay off your credit cards and stop using them unless you pay off immediately what you charge
- Leave big banks and move to credit unions
- Donate extra money to Rolling Jubilee to help others
- Teach your children to be smart consumers and self-sufficient citizens
- Grow as much of your own food as you possibly can