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Sustainable Living and Personal Debt

I know you see the title of this blog and think, what does my personal debt have to do with being sustainable? Well the short answer is: Everything. One of the largest negative impacts on the environment today is over consumption, buying items we don't really need and can't afford just because we want them. Now I'm not saying I am not guilty of living beyond my means. I lived the first 32 years being a prime example of an American consumer. What I am saying is that changing the way we view money, and ultimately stuff, can go very far in reducing the impact we have on the planet.

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A little over a year ago I was introduced by a friend to Dave Ramsey through his book "The Total Money Makeover." I read the book and saw the wisdom of Dave's plan. It was a bit of a challenge getting my husband on board, but after looking at all of our debt on paper, he decided it was the direction we needed to go in. If you have never heard of Dave Ramsey or his Financial Peace University, you can check out his site at http://www.daveramsey.com . His 7 step plan has helped us pay off all of our credit debt and we are down to just our student loans and mortgage. We now live within our means and only buy what we need when we need it. No more credit, no more impulse purchases, and a sizable reduction in unnecessary waste. This will not only help my family's financial future, but will help reduce our impact.

Why is living within our means so important? As developing countries catch up to America in economic wealth, there is a trend for the growing middle class in these countries to want to live like "Americans." On the surface, this appears to be a good thing. Why can't these people increase their quality of living? The world human population is currently almost 7 billion people and growing every day. If more and more of these individuals want an increased standard of living on par with Americans, this will cause the planets resources to disappear at a rate faster than the planet can renew itself. This can only lead in one direction, ecological disaster. We as individuals can lead the way by example and show that quality of life does not equal how much you own, but how full your life is. Family, friends, experiences, mean more than material items ever will.

The idea of living within your means is not a new one. Before the introduction of credit cards in the 1920's people had to live on what they made. There was the rare instance when a farmer would purchase some food items or grain at the local store with the promise of payment after harvest, but the majority of purchases were made with cash or through barter. So this idea of "I want therefore I must have, no matter if I can afford it," is a very recent phenomenon. I admit I have a hard time with this as well. I fight with my impulses every day. But I try to keep the bigger picture in mind, envisioning the future I want to see for my children. A happy home filled with love; a life full of fulfilling experiences; a life rich with the beauty and wonder of nature. These are the things I hope to give my children and grandchildren. This is what keeps me going when people say, "What is the point?"

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Posted in Personal_Finance Post Date 12/14/2018


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