December 7, 2011

Control Your Debt - Control Your Life

Consumption has increased, but wages have been left behind

Simple living is a way of controling your desires so that you can regain control over your life. It is a way to escape the work/spend/work cycle, in order to live consciously and with purpose. It is a lifestyle choice few Americans have been choosing. That may change.

During the period from 1980 to 2008 we enjoyed the largest sustained period of economic growth since the last depression. Everyone felt the illusion of wealth, and it spurred an orgy of consumption such has never been seen before. This rampant consumerism has cost us dearly. We have paid by giving up control over our lives.

We gave up control because for most people the wealth was only an illusion. As it turns out, only the top income earners benefited from the economic upswing.

Income growth (or lack of it) from 1979 - 2007

Bottom income earners actually saw their incomes plummet during this period of supposed prosperity. Middle income earner gains stagnated, while the top 1% were laughing all the way to their safety deposit boxes. And that was during good economic times.

Since 2008, and the global breakdown of capitalism, things have gotten decidedly worse. Income inequality is reaching obscene levels in many countries around the world.

So how have so many people outfitted themselves with dream homes, new cars, wide screen home theaters and annual vacations? How is it that Black Friday 2011 set sales records?

How are people funding these excessive lifestyles? For many the answer is: debt. With prices rising, and incomes stagnating, debt has been the only way many people could continue to fund the high-consumption lifestyles that have come to be seen as "normal".

It has become so bad that people are borrowing money to pay debt. Yes, paying debt with debt. Any kid with a lemonade stand knows that this is not an effective way to run a business, or a household.

Consumer debt 1980 - 2007

Seven in ten people in Canada own houses, and four in ten have no savings. Many people are expecting, for the first time, to be in debt past age 65. About 70% have no pension. It is hard to see how this kind of bondage can end well.

We have been using debt to live beyond our means for decades, and in the process have lost control of our lives. Debt can be a ball and chain that is easy to put on, but extremely hard to remove.

However, one of the best things you can do is get rid of debt. It is one way the 1% tries to enslave us - by enticing us to borrow their money, to buy their stuff.

Eventually, they plan, we will be so in debt that we will be desperate enough to work for them in their crappy low-paying jobs. Jobs that don't allow us to pay off our debt, but do allow us to at least make the minimum payments. It is more difficult to live consciously and with purpose when you owe the big banks money.

Adopting a simple, low-consumption way of life is one way to bend the bars of the cage of consumerism, and slip away to freedom. It can help you get out of debt, and stay out of debt. The time has come for us to start living within our means, and at the same time, fight for a more equitable world.

Simple living can assist us by providing the drive to control our desires and our spending. It is the best way to retire debt, and regain control over your life.

Live simply - be free.


  1. Great post as usual Greg. Tis a gift to live simply, tis a gift to live free!

  2. Savoring Servant,

    My perspective on life became decidedly freer when I eliminated all my debt. Living simply allowed this to happen sooner.

    A recent study found Canadians are among the most indebted in the developed world. About 153% and increasing, along with the grossly inflated cost of housing.

    Simplicity is the gift that keeps on giving. It is real, sustainable abundance.

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

    Happy holidays.


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