Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Extreme Austerity Project

Near the end of May, my family and I embarked on what we call the "Extreme Austerity Project".  We cut our overall family budget and spending in half (GASP) - and plan to continue living this way for at least a year.  Webster defines an austerity program as:

"a program of economic controls aimed at reducing current consumption so as to improve the national economy"

The economic controls aimed at reducing our current consumption are in place within our family.  Economic controls are the easy part.  Yes, we have had to give up things.  Interestingly though, the things that make the most difference to give up are thought patterns and beliefs.  While we haven't gained full mastery in this area yet, I can share with you some of the things that we have discovered we must give up:

  • Any sense of entitlement
  • The belief that our time has value
  • The belief that happiness and/or well-being is linked to spending and consumption

If you are expecting the remainder of this post to be whining and complaints about what we now have to go without, you will be disappointed. Only a few months into the project, we are already seeing that we are all happier, healthier and more grateful and appreciative.  Economic controls on their own however did not cause this.  Economic controls combined with a willingness to make things work and a willingness to transform our thinking has made a difference. 

We are doing this program at a family level because we have to.  It has become acutely evident that our level of consumption is not sustainable over the long-term, if we want there to be anything left for our children and grandchildren to inherit.  It has also become evident that if we do not teach our children how to exist (let me restate that - THRIVE) under economic controls, the cycle is likely to continue for another generation.  Whether this family project improves the national economy is yet to be determined.