Sunday, 22 October 2017 13:23

Are We Too Materialistic?

I read an article this morning about two couples who had each managed to quit working by the age of 40. One couple earned around £90,000 a year, but the other was on less than half that. As I read the piece, it soon became clear they’d had to completely overhaul their finances to achieve their dream of finishing work that early. Most of us hope to quit at retirement age – but that keeps on getting pushed back further into the distance, and many people cannot afford to quit then either.

But maybe more interesting than the article was the selection of comments people left underneath it. There was very little positivity there. Some people congratulated the couples on putting in the hard work and making sacrifices to get to where they wanted to be. But most believed it was alright for them to do it, but it was because they earned more, or didn’t have kids, or had some other reason that made it possible for them, but not for the people writing the comments.

Could you do it?

It would undoubtedly be harder for some than for others, but I have always believed anything is possible if you set your mind to it. These people looked around their homes and noticed all the material possessions they had. In a couple of cases, they had more than one of each item. Why? That’s one of the questions they asked themselves.

They ended up selling a lot of stuff to raise money to boost their savings. Then they stopped buying stuff they didn’t need. They downsized their home. They managed to put away over 50% of everything they earned. They got rid of one car and stuck with just one model.

There are lots of ways you could reduce your outgoings if you wanted to retire early. The commenters on that article were negative and had already decided they couldn’t do it, so they didn’t even try. But would you try it? What would you be prepared to sacrifice to make it happen?

What do we really need?

We live in a materialistic society. Everything must be bigger, better, faster, more expensive… you name it, that’s how it works. And it is very easy to get sucked in. Maybe that is why some people put non-essential things on their list of bills each month, like satellite or cable TV, for example. We get sucked into believing specific things are necessary when they aren’t.

These people gave up a lot to make their dreams come true. They’re retired now, and they’re barely into their forties. Earning tons of money shouldn’t be the main aim in life. It should be appreciating and enjoying the life we have – and that life could be anything we want it to be if we take the time to move in the right direction.

Materialism is how the world is now, but that doesn’t mean you need to be materialistic to fit into it. Do you agree?