Even Living Like a Pauper in These Times Is Like Living Like Royalty of the Past
My mom lives on a little less than $900 per month of income in California. She has
- a laptop,
- a cell phone,
- a car,
- health insurance,
- access to a nearby park, and
- a grocery store within 1.5 miles of her
Granted, she lives a simple life now compared to a much more lavish lifestyle in her 20’s and 30’s. She is in her mid 60’s and enjoys this very much. On occasion she will have to save a little to get a plane ticket to visit family or get a dental implant she needed. But both my sister and I are more than happy to help… she is just the independent sort.
Living Like a Modern Day Queen
So let’s think about this, she has access to a ton of great information on the web for free that she can learn from or be entertained by. She has access to YouTube where she watches reruns of Golden Girls (I actually used to like watching this with her). She gets to Skype with family members for free. I Google Chat with her for free. She can enjoy the library with the grand kids and do her daily walking exercise at the park. She has a fridge where she can safely keep food and she has a full kitchen to make delicious meals (trust me, I know). She feels safe in the apartment she is renting and has great neighbors.
Back in Time, 70 Years Ago…
Compare this to the richest person you can imagine 70 years ago. They didn’t have a cell phone, a computer that connects you to the world. The ability to cheaply hop on a plane and visit friends and family. We are living in an amazing country where you feel safe, have access to tons of free services such as the library and parks. Even if you were Bill-Gates-rich 70 years ago you couldn’t have had what she can afford on $900 per month now. There is more… I agree, lots more. There is more to be eaten, more to be purchased, more to be experienced but where do you draw the line? I envy those who are happy with the bare essentials.
What if She Made $200k/yr…
I am told that it is ridiculous for me to live like a pauper, like a homeless person or like a college student (I have also heard peasant, villager and crackhead… don’t get the last one). Friends say this because they look at how much I make and then they look at how much I live on. People have lost the ability to evaluate circumstances individually and independent of how things are supposed to be. Instead they have allowed advertisement to make their lifestyle decisions for them which is essentially based on a societal hierarchy.
Yet ask these individuals what they think of the caste system still in existence in India and they will shake their heads at it. If mom made $200k/yr and still lived the way she did and saved some of her money, donated some and invested the rest in socially responsible businesses I wouldn’t think her to be torturing herself or even be missing out. Instead I would be impressed that she took a step back and differentiated between her wants and needs.
Is there any aspect of your life that you would spend less on if it wasn’t for onlookers?
Have you considered downsizing your lifestyle? If so why or why not?