We are certainly living in interesting times. Prices are going up faster than ever before, whilst wages are stagnating. It has never been more important to reduce your cost of living. For the first time in modern history, young people are actually poorer than their parents. If you spend any time reading the news, it’s difficult to come out of it feeling anything but despair about where we are headed as a species. Do you know anyone who thinks the future will be a heavenly utopia like they predicted a few decades ago? Yeah, me neither.
In this post, I’m going to be outlining a solution for the cost of living crisis. It won’t solve the crisis, but it may solve your crisis. I am not going to be talking about how you can save £5 here or there by doing this and that, no. Spending huge portions of your time to try and save just a few pounds is, in my opinion, a fools errand.
What you actually need, is a paradigm shift.
noun: paradigm shift; plural noun: paradigm shifts
- a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. “geophysical evidence supporting Wegener’s theory led to a rapid paradigm shift in the earth sciences”
The news is depressing because it sells. That’s pretty much the only reason. Go outside. What do you see? Everything is the same. The sun still shines, and life goes on.
Paradigm Shift #1: You Need Barely Anything
Over 2000 years ago lived a man named Diogenes. He lived in a barrel on the streets, having minimal possessions – just a few rags and a drinking cup. One day, he saw a child drinking water using his hands. He then threw away his cup, and said “A child has beaten me in plainness of living”.
You and I both live like royalty by comparison. We have access to abundant food, limitless free information from the palm of our hand, instant communication with anyone globally, hot and cold water plumbed directly to our house, and the list goes on and on. I bet you even own multiple drinking cups.
Compared to our ancestors, these are truly blessed times to be alive. Based on this, we need to change our perspective. Our society tells us that we don’t have enough, that we should be doing more, working harder, earning more money, and buying nicer things… but that’s simply untrue. You can decide what is enough. If every single one of your ancestors has lived with less fortune, so can you. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat and clothes to wear, you already have enough. When you truly understand this, it becomes much easier to reduce your cost of living.
Paradigm Shift #2: You Are Conditioned to Have a Scarcity Mindset
Capitalism works through a super simple method. Essentially, our society will shout propaganda (advertising) at you telling you to buy their products. But they don’t tell you to outright because that’s not very effective. Marketers do it by inducing a scarcity mindset, a fear of missing out. Implanting the subconscious message of “Your life will be better with this thing, how are you even living without it? ” So you buy the thing and then are forced to work to replenish the money you spent, as clutter builds up all around your home. Rinse and repeat.
If you see an ad once then you can brush it off, but if you are subjected to ads repeatedly, for multiple years, well it’s no surprise that you will be persuaded at some point, to buy something, even if you don’t realise it. How many ads do you think you see a day? A few dozen? 100? Haha, no.
In 2021 it was estimated the average person encounters between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. With numbers like that, our brains never stood a chance. They are not designed for the sheer amount of distractions and information thrown at us, which is now considered to be the average first-world human experience. To be truly satisfied with what you have is to be an outlier in our society.
Remember this, we live in a time of abundance, despite what we are told.
You have enough. If you really understand that, advertising can never work on you, and you won’t feel a need to buy things. You may still want things, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you can make the distinction. We make decisions based on how we feel, and then try to use logic and reason to justify those decisions. It is the job of advertising to make you feel like you need their product and keep you under the illusion that it was your own decision. If you genuinely feel like you only need enough to get by, and nothing more, you are immune.
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wantsEpictetus
Paradigm Shift #3: Reality Doesn’t Care About Your Ego
Here in the UK, the cost of heating is at a record high and still climbing. People are spending hundreds each month in an attempt to remain comfortable in their own homes. An average person would say “I deserve to be warm and comfortable in my home”. And on the surface that sounds reasonable. But that is their ego talking. A pragmatic person in a cost-of-living crisis would say “It’s Winter, it’s supposed to be cold. But the cost of heating is too much right now. I’ll go and put on my jumper and hat”.
Yes, in the past the average person could afford to heat their house 24/7 and be comfortable all the time. That is a luxury, not a right. Because you have experienced better does not mean you are entitled to that now, that’s reality. You are owed nothing. In general, people aren’t willing to accept a standard of living less than what they already have. That standard has been rising for centuries, and at some point, that trend can’t be maintained.
If you fail to adapt, you will be punished. Life will give you lessons. If you fail to learn these lessons, then you will be taught them again and again until it eventually sinks in.