Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Dwindling Need for Things

Sometime between last year and this year, we seem to have passed the great divide of Needing More Things.

I am not sure when it happened.  I wish that I could point to a day, a moment, some even that would make the demarcation tangible.  But that simply did not seem to happen.

I can see the evidence of it, of course.  Actual, practical discussions about spending and money.  Edging around the discussion of how we will pay for a retirement and help support college (3 of them, mind you).  Which wonderfully focuses the mind, as it turns out.

Practically speaking, every expense now gets questioned.   Even previously simple tasks like shopping for food becomes a contest in "Why did we buy that?" and "Do we need it?"

It has turned out to be a good personal exercise for me as well.  In a way, refreshing:  I can almost the material desires peeling away from my soul.  The need for money is there, but not the need for things to buy with the money.

My own personal list has dwindled significantly.  The remaining things I want are expensive (mostly iai related) or long term development related (such as bees and a beehive and the land to go with it).  Beyond those types of things and a simple desire for books, there really is not much else.

Well, one thing I suppose: Financial Freedom.  The power to not have to go day after day and do that which matters little to me, and certainly the desire to be free of wagery.

Hmm.  Perhaps then this development is the first step to bigger and better things...


Rain said...

Hi TB, this is a great place to be. I lost my materialism many years ago. Not by choice though. When I lost my job and had to go on disability, I was forced to downsize and I was bitter about it. I remember days when I had to sell some of my things just to buy a spaghetti dinner. It was a tough lesson, but I do appreciate what I learned.

My boyfriend took a little longer though because we were at different stages of our lives. I'd already been through it all and learned the lesson when I met him. He was still working and spending as he wished. He's 20 years younger than me, so the idea of retirement didn't even phase him. I know it didn't when I was in my 20's! He's more aware now though and he's dropped his materialism over the last 3 years of us living up north together. We're so careful with purchases now and I work really hard on the budget and the shopping list.

I'm only 49, but I will lose my income at 65. This weighs on my mind a lot, and you're right, it promotes a lot of focus! Thankfully we only have us and the pets though, 3 college tuitions to pay...I don't know how people do it.

Funny you mention books, that's what we think about most now when we want to "splurge"! :)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

We have had nothing that severe to get to this point - although we had to short sell our house in 2009 due to me losing my job and things (frankly) have never been quite the same. I think, looking back, that started the process that led to where we are today.

I am curious: does your disability transfer into something else like (in the US) Social Security? If you are looking at losing all income in 13 years you are far more calm about it than I would be.

The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I have different splurge categories. Mine is books, hers is eating out.

Rain said...

At age 65 (or 67) I can apply for the Canada Pension Plan, it's about $550 a month. I think I'm eligible for $295 from Quebec. It's quite a drop. That's why I need to establish buying a property (a cheap one), paying it off and saving as much as possible so I don't live in poverty when I'm in old age. Of course Alex will go back to work if needed and we plan to be as self sufficient at possible, but life has a way of kicking you when you're down sometimes!

Glen Filthie said...

I'm half a lap behind you TB.

When we were kids we had NOTHING. What was a deep recession for the adults, was a full blown depression for us kids. Youth unemployment ran 35% up here in Canada and we got by working multiple part time jobs. If anything it fuelled my materialism. Hell - call it what it is: addiction. I have way too many guns, too many RC airplanes, and other toys I don't have time to use. (Or, as I get older, the inclination!)

But - I am not convinced Freedom 55 is a Good Thing. It's one thing to have money but you have to have something to do too - something that stirs your soul and matters. My toys just won't do that... so I gotta find something that does. THAT, for me, is my big life challenge right now...

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Are the pension plan and the money from Quebec both available or mutually exclusive? And does it change if you move within Canada?

Just as a kind of cross cultural communication (look at me being international and all), we can apply for social security starting sometime between 62 and 70. Your earnings depend on how much you paid into the system during your working years and the monthly amount becomes more the longer you delay taking (this ignores, of course, the rather real concern that Social Security may not be solvent as more people are now taking out of the system than are paying into the system. They keep talking about changing it but no-one ever does anything). One may or may not also have an Individual Retirement Account, which is a tax deferred retirement account which one pays into during working years and then begins to take withdrawals (some taxed if a normal IRA, some not if payed with post tax dollars (Roth IRA).

Yes, best to have that sort of thing taken care of before the income goes down. It is a thought on my mind right now too - as it stands, we have about 10 more years of kids and college. At that point we will be about at the halfway point on our 30 year house mortgage. I cannot really see continuing to make a house payment after I have retired.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

It is interesting Glen, that youth employment has become a problem here in the US as well - a growing one. More and more "minimum wage" jobs are being held by people other than teenagers. Add automation to this and the part time or summer employed teen is becoming a thing of the past (for our girls, they do as well or better by babysitting than they ever would at an equivalent part time job.

I too have a lot of stuff that I do not really use, but struggle to let it go. It represents time and money and maybe some happy memories of doing those things. At this point I am simply trying to simply split the balance by bringing no net new things in. We will get to the downsizing as my psyche can bear...

Right again about having purpose and meaning - again, we are on the same track here as well. Something of meaning and purpose - after all, you can only be retired so much. Perhaps it would be fair to say that I am working on finding ways to downsize the less critical things I do and find more things that matter as well.