Here is the discussion post for the sixth installment of the Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic book club.
Chapter 22. Bed rest - One of the first steps in curing yourself of affluenza is to do an assessment of your finances. Many people don't know how to manage their money. In other words, spending their paycheck in an intelligent way that creates savings rather than debt. It's a skill that seems to have been lost in the last few generations.
For those who are not living paycheck to paycheck, paying close attention to their finances may result in being able to achieve financial independence years earlier. For those on a low-income it can be the difference between putting money in the bank versus stressing about their monthly bills.
What do you do or have you done to control your finances? Do you keep a spreadsheet of your expenses or use a computer program like Quicken or Money? Does keeping close tabs on your finances prevent you from overspending?
Chapter 23. Aspirin and chicken soup - This chapter mentions several study programs that focus on the premise that simplifying one's life is easier when you have the support and encouragement of others. Instead of the pressure to consume as we are constantly bombarded with by media and advertising, groups that follow Voluntary Simplicity and Choices for Sustainable Living provide the benefit of that support.
Have you read books like Voluntary Simplicity, Simple Prosperity, or Your Money or Your Life; have you browsed websites like The Simple Living Network or joined challenges like the Buy Nothing Challenge? How helpful have they been in helping you achieve your goals of spending less and saving more? Do you prefer reading books or joining in with a group? What sort of groups or tools would help support your financial goals that you haven't been able to find?
Chapter 24. Fresh air - In 2003, thirty-four percent of Americans ranked shopping as their favorite activity. I just want you to let that sink in.
The idea that the more money you make, the less you need to know or have contact with nature is a misnomer. In fact, the more contact with nature you have, the less money you'll need, or want to make. This chapter advises getting out into the fresh air to help cure your affluenza.
For the most part, outdoor activities can be rather inexpensive unless you get caught up in buying tons of expensive gear (do you really need all that stuff to enjoy camping, hiking or other activities?). Plus, the more you feel in touch with the outdoors, the more you'll want to protect it.
Having that connection with nature changes your attitude in a number of ways. Have you experienced a time when going outside has rejuvenated you? Even if it's just spending some time weeding the yard after a long winter? How does that feeling compare to the exhilaration (or stress) of shopping?
Chapter 25. The right medicine - Buying to save the Earth is not a new concept but it seems to have taken on a new focus lately. We see so many new products out almost weekly sporting how "green" they are. We've all heard of greenwashing, but can you really save the environment by buying?
Surely, if you must purchase a new item or appliance, it makes sense to choose the one with the least impact (whether that be carbon output or less energy expensive) or the one that is organic, sustainable, fair-trade, etc.
When you do buy something, how much time and research do you put into making sure that the product you are buying is the best for the environment? Is it an afterthought? How much does cost affect your decision making?