I just realized that talking about how much money I/we spend may not be the best way to gauge how we eat, dress, live, and do things etc.

A much better way to get into the right kind of thinking is to stop evaluating lifestyle in money and think about resources. I use about the same kind of resources as other people do. I eat the same number of calories each day, and I put in the same number of layers of clothes. I too have a front door, places to sit, a stove, furnaces, etc.

What separates me from the crowd is that my money is not as strongly connected to these resources as theirs are. I am not a consumer. First and most importantly, consuming is another word for destroying. I don’t destroy. I take care of things and I don’t neglect them in the back of the closet which somehow seems to have become a national sport and the entire foundation of our supposed “economy”: Digging resources out of the ground, turning them into shiny gadgets, selling them, and putting them back into the landfills; either our garages which serve as our personal fills or the official ones. Second, there are very often different ways of using resources. Instead of buying them, you can make them. You can improvise. Or maybe you can simply do something equivalent.

The challenge is that this requires first, a different frame of mind, and second, the skills to do so. I think you’d have to be evil to be purposely wasteful. The skill part is more difficult. What’s keeping most people, I believe, is that first they have the money so it’s easier just to spend it than to learn other means of “acquisition”. Second, they don’t have the time to learn because they are busy working, sleeping, and watching TV in that order of time priority.

I highly suspect that whether you have a TV or not is HIGHLY correlated to whether you will become a non-consumer or not. I’m not saying it’s impossible with a TV. I’m just proposing that it is highly correlated. Most of the people I know who are conscientious about their stuff do not watch TV. It is likely that this causation works in both ways.

Check out my guest post on Living frugally for early retirement. It is the second in a three part series on Monevator. The first part appeared a week ago and had many comments.

Originally posted 2010-04-15 10:12:08.