It’s a revolution

I’m delighted to discover that I have become part of a slowly growing revolution.

I don’t think you hear much, if anything, about it in the media. Maybe people aren’t even talking about it much among themselves. But those who do talk, learn that there are more of us out there than we suspected.

We “revolutionaries” are people who have discovered the self-discipline and accompanying sense of freedom that comes from cutting up our credit cards and living within our means. Our mantra has become “if we can’t pay cash, we can’t afford it.”

Long ago, people saved up their money to get extra things they needed. If they really wanted to splurge, they put things on lay-away at the store, paid a little every month, and brought the item home only when they’d paid in full.

Nowadays, most of the boats, snowmobiles, expensive vacations, electronic toys and wardrobes of designer clothes hint at an enviable prosperity that’s really a lie. Most of the time, those things were bought with plastic money and will be paid for only after credit card interest has doubled and tripled their price–and created a wall of debt nearly impossible to climb. In this time of economic hardship, only the credit card companies are doing well.

I got rid of my credit card at least two years ago, and have been living on my admittedly small income. I didn’t suspect that I wasn’t the only one. One by one, however, I’ve heard of other people doing the same–and then someone posted an NPR article on Facebook.

“Balancing the Budget: the Problem Might Be You,” the article was called, and although much of it talked about people’s reluctance to pay in taxes for the services they expect from government, it also mentioned that we expect government to live within its means even while we refuse to do so. A balanced national budget begins with our own balanced personal budget.

The best part of reading that, though, was seeing the responses on Facebook. The person who posted it said she had been without a credit card for two years.

“Is it hard living within my means? Hell, yes. Do I want a new car? Hell, yes. But living nearly debt free is so worth it,” she wrote.

I agree. When I reached that point, I felt as if a huge burden had been lifted.

Other responses echoed her sentiments.

“Debt free is AWESOME!!!! We all WANT things but are they things we really NEED? We all have what we really NEED….always,” said one woman.

“We are spoiled brats. We want it all and want it NOW,” wrote another.

Someone else saw the trend as a way of preparing for what may be a bleak future that will be imposed upon everyone whether they embrace it or not.

“Start living differently now so when the $%#& really hits the fan you will be accustomed to living a much more simple life and that transition will be smoother for you than for those who have not prepared in any way, be it physically or emotionally,” she wrote.

I was delighted. Those comments came from people who just happen to know the person who posted the original NPR article. That means there must be many more of us out there, quietly revolting against the Madison Avenue agenda to get us to spend, spend, spend.

More than that, we’re actually learning to recognize that agenda for what it is when faced with it on billboards and in television and print ads. Those blatant appeals to greed and materialism have become more and more obvious to me.  And, I now know I’m not alone in putting my foot down and saying, “No, I do NOT need the biggest, the newest, the fanciest, and more of it.” Often, I don’t need ANY version of whatever it is they’re trying to sell.

Instead, I’m learning to better care for what I already have in order to extend its lifetime, to appreciate what I have, and to find alternatives right in my own home for what I want but don’t need. If this catches on, as it seems to be doing, the ripples are bound to spread and touch the very core of the American economy.

Who would have thought that, at the age of retirement, I would have become a rebel.

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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4 Responses to It’s a revolution

  1. Denise Doyle says:

    Kudos to you and everyone else out there that have or are working toward cutting up those credit cards! I only use mine to purchase gas and then I pay the entire balance each month. It feels great!! I agree, we all think we need so much and we must have it right now, but we don’t. We have lost sight of what is really important…family, friends, kindness, respect and look at the mess the world is in.

  2. Monica says:

    I use a debit card for gas and other things–but that means I have to have the money, first. Makes me think twice about spending it down! LOL!

  3. Kay Krause says:

    I stopped using my credit card a couple of years ago. It is truly amazing how long it would take to pay off a credit card if only paying the minimum. Even just a couple thousand dollars would take a long time, many years even. I am hoping to have everything paid off by the time I retire. Hard times are coming, higher prices for everything,food,clothing, gas. Oh well.

  4. Monica says:

    I think we’ll all be surprised at how we can make do, and at how much we don’t need.

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