When most of the U.S. entered into the sheltering-in-place phase in March of 2020, everything was upended. Our fears were exposed and the truth about our shopping habits was laid bare. True confessions; I like going to stores. I want B & N to have any book I decide to read. I truly believed Jasmine rice was important to my happiness. I was distressed when Costco ran out of toilet paper and paper towels. Imagine my panic when I went to three different stores and couldn’t find yellow onions….I normally paid $1.79 for three pounds and would have paid three times that amount just to get what I wanted.
I like getting what I need and want when I need and want it. For sure, we need the essentials like housing, food and water to live, but I think we’re learning a larger lesson from this difficult time.
Since sheltering in place, I’ve discovered that I need a lot less to live than I previously thought. We’re doing Zoom meetings in yoga pants, saving a bundle on wardrobes, dry-cleaning, and even gas. We’ve been making our own coffee, cooking at home, gardening, walking, and bicycling instead of visiting gyms. It’s like a whole new world has opened up since we’ve been focusing on keeping ourselves safe from COVID-19.
Even during this difficult time, there has been a recalibration of life; a reordering of what is truly important. We’ve missed so many face-to-face life moments; Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, graduations, and proms. We long for hugs, holding hands, and kissing the foreheads of people we love who may be sick or hospitalized. It’s been heartwarming to see our better angels appear; restauranteurs feed those on the frontlines; kids making and distributing masks; neighbors giving sacrificially to make sure no one goes without.
On social media there’s been a wonderful void of advertisements of high end goods, expensive cars and ten thousand dollar purses. Celebrities are showing their gray hair, thick eyebrows and at-home haircuts.
Now that we’re reopening, and returning to at least a little bit of pre-COVID life, the question is, will we continue to learn that less can be more?
I’ve been asking myself— is it really hard to budget and save money or has my focus been on trying to keep up by buying so many things I don’t need? Even before COVID-19, I had been seriously looking at the minimalist movement (not the art genre) since watching the television show Hoarders and Spark Joy. The compulsion to hoard is a disorder that is unique to the developed world; you’ll never see Hoarders: Papua, New Guinea edition.
Can we continue to find contentment with less stuff as we re-emerge from lockdown? Will we continue to elevate relationships and human contact? Can we redefine success and find value in humans beings instead of human havings? Our net worth does not equal our self-worth. We have a unique opportunity to recognize we are the boss of our money— we can have things without our things having us. When we change, the way we use our money will change.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”Dave Ramsey
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