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“American’s Doing More, Buying Less, A Poll Finds

I saw this article recently in the NY Times. It felt both encouraging and somewhat worrisome. I’ve personally learned a lot about the richness of doing more, buying and having less luxuries and expendable, material stuff. It’s beyond fun – it’s pure, unadulterated relief and freedom. But what about the things we do need and that allow us to do those things? As they say in Hollywood this year, “It’s Complicated”.

The family profiled in the article sounds like their economic fate simply led them from upper class to upper-middle class lifestyle – with sacrifices consisting of no more designer clothes monthly and other shopping sprees. But they were able to buy a canoe on Craig’s List so that they could now DO the things that they discovered gave them more happiness than buying things. Ok. Makes sense. A daughter got a camera (on sale) for Christmas so she could pursue her own fulfilling version of doing. I like that, too.

Many families like this could manage well on half their current income, so downsizing the white collar world is possibly the least of our economic worries. These people can and will still do their part to stimulate spending in areas where the job losses wreak more havoc – like the service industry. They will still upkeep their automobiles and homes and take vacations.

For others, it gets trickier to keep spending and make ends meet. But, I believe that we can save the economy and support people’s jobs by being more selective about our consumer choices. Even while I struggled as a single home owner with limited income, i decided that i would invest in quality over quantity and that the lowest price was not a priority in my household spending. I was still a self-serving proposition – those choices were about my investments in both property and my health. I believe buying and spending locally and investing in organic food, clothing and household items makes me and the world healthier and helps keep the jobs that are healthier for all of us.

I also recognize the value of recreation and entertainment – again health and balance trump austerity in this modern age. I’ve been tempted to stop going out to restaurants but having logged my hours in the restaurant service industry myself, i understand how little it takes for these jobs to be lost and the impact it has on those employed. So, I eat out regularly, support the co-ops. I also rent videos regularly at my local video store. I enjoy press pot tea every few days at the shop down the street. I’m giving up but not giving in.

As the article emphasizes, we are gaining perspective in this downturn – learning that we can focus on “Elevating Experiences During Hard Times”. This feels great and hopeful for the future. But I hope we can support the areas where jobs don’t have to be eliminated entirely, evolve into the more sustainable versions that are on the horizons of clean energy, clean industry and clean food.


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One Response to “”

  1. phyllisdiehl Says:

    there was a great story about a family that swapped houses. the nj family left their large house in millburn, and moved to a rural french cottage. to their surprise, there was not that much stuff, like her “stuffed house in millburn, nj. she like you found out that “simple” things can be bought, and she learned tracey’s teaching, recylce, reuse,and refurbish. people used bikes, gardens were planted, entertainment was wine and cheese and good friends…….thanks for your blog today

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