We are now in the age of hyper-consumption, consuming for the sake of consuming without any functional purposes. Collectively, we have all gone into a consumption frenzy with the world increasingly resembling the floor of a play centre with each day that passes; a surplus of toys scattered everywhere. We now frequently buy things, not because we need them, but rather as part of some daily ritual, perhaps to curb boredom or as a means of achieving a fleeting satisfaction with one’s self.
Yet, most-if not all of us-yearn for a future where we realise some form of financial independence. Unfortunately, that is as far as it goes, merely a desire, better yet a pipe dream, as our actions and consumption behaviours do not align with the realistic attainment of this goal.
Ideals such as the American Dream were initially based on this goal; the betterment of one’s self and the achievement of financial independence through hard work, frugality and self-sacrifice in the short run.
However, nowadays, this particular attitude has been thrown by the wayside as now such ideals, with a view to the long run financial independence, have been replaced by frivolous and reckless spending in the age where consumption reigns supreme.
Being financially independent is to have accumulated a sufficient level of wealth, be it small or vast, over the years so that you need not rely solely on your monthly wages to maintain your lifestyle, but rather have the added safety blanket of stored wealth built up through frugalness and savvy usage of money in investment vehicles and other capital generating financial instruments.
Doing this though, is no easy task, more so now than ever before, as, in the short run, it demands that we remain penny-wise, live well below our means and exercise a high degree of self discipline, something that a lot of us do not possess, as we get weak at the knees and itch to reach for our bank card at the sight of every 2-4-1 deal we come across or the release of those shiny new gadgets that promise to make our lives easier and more entertaining at the mere touch of a button. To be frank, as obvious as it may seem, this is the main reason many of us will never realise financial independence, to put it in layman’s terms- we spend too much.
Despite what you may think, wasteful spending habits are not synonymous with accumulating wealth. There seems to have been a cultural shift in our approach to wealth accumulation, as we entered the boom and bust years and the dotcom bubble, economic prosperity and advances in technology meant that a lot of people were making giant leaps financially and a lot of people were, proverbially, getting rich overnight.
Sadly, this has had a detrimental effect on the way we view wealth accumulation, our attitude has shifted from us viewing it as a long and arduous task that would take time, hard work and self discipline, to thinking that we could all become financially independent overnight without even breaking sweat. It is almost as if we expect that we will one day wake up and be wealthy regardless of our excessive consumption patterns.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is far bleaker than we think, not all of us are going to invent a “Facebook” or “Youtube” which we can just sell on to a technology conglomerate and make billions.
Instead, for the average person, in order to realise a life where one is not apprehensive of every bill that comes through the post and living pay-check to pay-check, we will need to be wise with money, and use it to better ourselves in the long run. The phrase to keep in mind is delayed gratification. This is being able to resist immediate gratification and instead waiting for a bigger and better reward that will also endure, in regards to financials, this is the equivalent of resisting the temptation to spend all your income recklessly and instead investing a portion of them in order to enjoy the fruits of your frugality in years to come, perhaps even permitting an early retirement.
Thus, let yourself not fall victim to the seemingly bottomless lines of credit and high street deals, but instead work towards building a future for yourself where your well-being is not marred by mountains of debt and you need not rely on your employer for your well-being but rather you can maintain your lifestyle without income from your day job for long periods at a time, if not indefinitely, should the economy take an unexpected plunge. Be smart with your money whilst things are good because when things go bad, and please be assured that the cyclical nature of the economy renders it inevitable that they will. you will find yourself better for it in the long run and much more able to withstand economic shocks.