Living a Contented Life on Less

A large salary and a fat bank account aren’t prerequisites to living a life full of joy and contentment. Neither is living like a monk.

You can live a good life — one where you regularly do the things you enjoy and spend time with family and friends — on a modest amount of money.

Unless you’re coming up out of abject poverty, it’s not even so much the amount of money you have that makes living that good life possible.

It’s more about what you don’t have: money worries.

Money worries are so common that we tend to take them for granted. We assume that it’s normal to worry about how to pay for the things we’ve bought if we have debt. We assume that it’s normal to worry about how the future will unfold regarding college for the kids and retirement for us if we don’t have enough saved. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are worried. But even if we don’t think about it consciously, a part of us is living with stress.

It’s hard to be content when you’re stressed.

And when we’re not content, we tend to do things to try to remedy that. As consumers, we’re used to buying and borrowing as solutions to our problems. (If you don’t believe me, try telling someone that your car needs a $1000 repair. A common reaction will be that it’s time to buy a new car. And how do most people buy new cars? They borrow the money.)

But when you regularly spend less than you earn (even if it’s just a little bit less), you’re able to build up a cushion and make better plans for the future.

It’s strange, but once you begin spending less than you earn, you start to want fewer things and to worry less. You get out of the cycle of desperation race and into a cycle of contentment.

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6 comments

  • I think financial stress also leads to more health issues. I feel pretty financially stable and seem to stress way less than most of my friends – these same friends get sick way more often and have worse conditions like joint pain…I know stress doesn’t cause 100% of this, but it can’t help and I do get sick way less…

  • I used to really get stressed about out finances. After going through FPU and understanding the beauty and simplicity of setting up a budget, things got a lot better. Now we say things like “we choose not to spend our money that way”, instead of “we can’t afford it”. We are truly content where God has us right now.

    • It’s nice to look at things from a perspective of choice like that instead of “can’t”. I’m glad things are going well for you.

  • I love this way of thinking. As you said, we live as if these worries are just a part of life. Most of us think borrowing to buy things we don’t need is the norm.

    We lose so much time, energy, and health because of these financial concerns. Having a simpler life, would be a benefit to many!