This week my father and I had a good look through our family finances, the bills – we had to chuckle when we realised that the same pattern had repeated the last few months with our electricity bill.
We were under the consumption limit for a one person household.
We are a three person family in a fairly big house and we had to grin and shake our heads, seeing our bill was so far from hundreds of dollars. It’s basically about $30. Though I can attribute this also to my father’s awesome energy company-hopping skills through the years, though it is winter in Australia at the moment and we’ve been using heating and basically all our devices and everything needed to cook and clean the house- we are still surprised. There’s also the fact my father had changed all the bulbs to be LED and some of them have a sensor so they will only turn on when people pass and turn off by themselves.
This just goes to show how little we consume, not just with our electricity but our water bills have also gotten quite low to the point it was nearly zero. In a lifestyle where we treasure family and home time, it is already an obvious fact that there will be less income available compared to a dual income household, though that doesn’t mean your bills have to become a major pain in the butt. This situation actually made me recall something I saw, a quote on a school wall – aspire not to have more but be more.
I think this can also be said as – aspire not to consume more but be more.
This is a piece of wisdom that most of society seems to not follow altogether. In the last few decades, with the increase of disposable income in households and potentials for career available in many levels of society, there is an increased focus on status symbols and busy lifestyles amongst everybody. How much you can get engaged in, spend and show off.
People have forgotten how to live simply. It’s all about filling up the holes of our lives with the newest trend, the new gadget, more aesthetics and more hobbies that require plenty of buying. I have nothing against hobbies itself, I myself am an avid needleworker and I have plenty of materials for that. I mean people who start collecting hobbies and buying all they need and more for the growing amount of hobbies, then complaining they don’t have much money put away for a house or the future.
It’s all about living in the present, showing off as much material as you can.
Within an Asian background, this is even worse – I’ve seen immigrant families from my home country come from simpler lives with more time at home and time together come here and suddenly there’s two full-on careers, a three floor house, two new cars, private school kids who have three different lessons a week, Dad has a garage man cave and Mum goes to a gym where the yoga classes have fancy names.
I have nothing against this lifestyle, in fact one of my relatives’ families live this way, she honestly enjoys all the busy aspects of it and feels bored at home with housework.
It’s when people have this lifestyle and expect that this is a “basic” standard of living. That this is the minimum of what they should have because ‘everyone wants to be like the Joneses’ and then complaining that they are very stressed trying to juggle all of these things and still save. They complain they are tired all the time or running all over the place.
It isn’t, basic is actually a lot lower than that and costs a lot less that even someone who works part-time like me, who still contributes to the household (though my father is the traditional provider), still can manage to put money away for my future. That and every now and then I can still get what I want, a book or two, clothes or even some yarn.
In our household there is one and a half income, one good car that’s less than two years old, my sibling is involved in a sport once a week and goes to a public school. My father does have a garage, though his tools are at the minimum and he splurges occasionally on certain items when they are on sale and he has trusted the brand. I used to do yoga as well, there was a Lululemon store close to my university that held free classes and I would go after my lectures. I’ve graduated since then so I do my exercise at home with a machine.
You can live however you want, but do not fall for the standards that’s plastered by mainstream media and encouraged and put up as an image by your peers and society in general. These lifestyles are expensive and usually suited to those who like to be very busy and highly stimulated by that.
You decide what your standards are, not the Joneses. The Joneses can have and consume more, but you can choose to be more, by your own standards.