One way we have continued to downsize is simply through attrition. By that I mean that as things have worn out or run out, we simply have not replaced them. We’ve done this with clothes and shoes. Rather than just giving things away, we’ve actually worn them out or worn them to the point we no longer enjoyed wearing them. We’ve done this with books in terms of getting rid of books and not rushing out to fill up the spot. We had a hand-me-down TV that we used until it died. Then we bought another basic TV to replace it, but didn’t spend a lot to get anything fancy.
We’ve also done this with our cars. We did have two cars up until about five weeks ago. The second car was fourteen years old and was just the extra car. Since we are at home so much, it rarely got used. In eighteen months, we drove it less than a thousand miles. As little things went wrong with it, we just let them go. (Nothing dangerous, just little extras and cosmetic things.) However, when it reached a certain point that there were enough things wrong with it that we had to decide what to do (like the key got stuck in the trunk lock so there was no way to lock the car), we chose to donate it to a ministry that fixes up old cars to sell them. So now we are a one car family. We don’t plan on purchasing a second car unless something in our life circumstances changes significantly.
We also have less because we’ve tried to be conservative when it comes to determining what is a necessity. I found this article very interesting since it dovetails with some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately: 12 new necessities that drain your cash. It is amazing how many things are now considered necessities in our culture.
I’ve been thinking about time and money and all of the things that pull at both. There are so many things that have become standard fixtures of daily life that weren’t even commonplace (or thought of) when I graduated from high school in the mid 80’s. Just off the top of my head, here are a few.
It used to be enough to take photos with a basic film camera and wait a week to get them developed. Now we have to use an expensive digital camera, image them, send them to family and friends online, and make them into photo books and put them on every other object known to man. Oh, and they better be very artistic with great lighting and composition. I mean, just a regular picture is boring.
And speaking of photo books. People used to put pictures in albums and the occasional scrapbook. Then it was scrapbooking mania. Now it is digital books that are printed and bound professionally and cost an arm and a leg.
Seniors used to get a portrait taken in a studio and get copies to share with friends. When I was a senior, it was a big deal that I got my pictures taken with TWO different outfits. Now senior pictures are done on location, look like model spreads, and are airbrushed so everyone looks perfect.
And while we’re on the topic if seniors. Seniors used to have a day when they got to skip class and go on a picnic at a nearby park. Now they have to go to Cancun.
Owning books used to be something special. Now they are so cheap and readily available people collect them and fill their homes with them. But do they read them?
Going out to eat was an event. We got dressed up and it was special. Now it is a lifestyle and really doesn’t mean anything special at all.
Birth announcements were little cards the hospital gave you that you wrote the basic information in and send out with a little photo. Now they are all custom-designed with artistic photos.
Traveling by plane was an event. People got dressed up. Going to Hawaii or some other exotic place was a once-in-a-lifetime event, usually for a honeymoon. Now lots of kids have been every place special before they graduate high school. What is there to look forward to?
These are just a few things I’ve thought of right now. I’m sure there are many, many others. The bottom line is: where does it all end? Every little “advancement” costs us more and more as we get sucked in.
I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong or evil with any of these things. But it is amazing to consider what we as a culture now think of as “normal” or “necessities”.