I thought I would return from my summer adventures and dive right back into my blogging routine. I certainly have enough time on my hands these days with my kids back in school, my husband back to work, and no projects on my plate. But I’ve been struggling to find the words to share with you …
A year ago, when I started this blog, I was teetering on the edge of keeping it all together. You remember, we moved into a house that we had been building just before the housing market collapsed, and I had a garage full of stuff I didn’t want to put away, so I decided to make a game of becoming a minimalist, and therein, this blog was born.
Well, when we decided to move back to our favorite neighborhood, I started to feel like I needed to “nest” a little … in an effort to create a “home” for my family that was not just another empty house we had to live in. So, I’ve been frequenting the thrift stores and slowly pulling together a few items that fill up the walls and keep the house from feeling “lonely,” as my son described it. Fear not, my friends. I have not dived blindly back into the consumer lifestyle I once espoused. In fact, with no work on the horizon, this contractor is learning how to live an increasingly frugal lifestyle. Learning how to can my own jams with locally picked blackberries, and how to make my own all-natural cleaning products without spending a fortune on the well-marketed alternatives.
That said, there is something bigger that has been consuming me, and I’ve been having a difficult time finding the words to describe it. Without getting into a political debate, there is something frightening happening to the middle class in America right now. Regardless of how you believe that challenge should be solved, the fact is that my friends and neighbors are continuing to lose their jobs. And their homes. Food banks are overwhelmed trying to support the increasing demand for groceries. Meanwhile, corporations are posting RECORD PROFITS. What is happening?
College graduates are graduating with more debt than ever before for a college education, and yet they are unable to find jobs. They cannot pay their debts, nor can they afford to establish themselves and start the careers they worked so hard to earn. It makes you question whether a college degree is worth it. I think we can all agree that education is priceless. But at what cost to the students?
We are, for the first time in history, raising a generation of children that may not achieve the same level of financial stability as their parents. Economically speaking, our children will not even have as many opportunities as we did as kids. As a parent, this is particularly troublesome for me. I work hard to ensure that my children have all of the opportunities they can, and my parents did the same. I had opportunities my parents never dreamed of, and that is what I hope to provide to my own children. But, in the direction we’re headed, those opportunities will no longer be available to them at an affordable price.
I have to tell you … my children are smart. Empathetic. Strong. Courageous. They have the capacity to change the world. So, it kills me to think that they may not have the opportunity to rise to their full potential. Meanwhile, the Hollywood socialites, movie stars, and professional athletes do not have to think twice about money. I’m not saying they don’t work hard at their jobs as well. And frankly, they earn the wages they do because we, as consumers, are willing to pay $5 for a tabloid magazine at the grocery store check stand. We’re willing to buy NFL Sunday Ticket, or the outrageously priced season tickets to cheer on our favorite teams. We will spend $50 for a family of four to go to the movie theatre to see the latest film.
We are paying the rich to be rich, while at the same time, we are struggling to put gas in our cars and food on our tables. This is what is happening. We are fueling the machine that is oppressing us. I don’t know what the simple answer is to this crisis. But I do hold true to my belief that we vote with our wallets.
Here are a few of the ways that I think voting with your wallet can change the world. Or at least your community:
- Food. Do you have concerns about GMOs and the processed food system in America? Then go to your local farmer’s market or non-chain neighborhood grocery store and spend your money there. Not only are you supporting your local economy and community businesses, but you’ll know where your food came from.
- Clothing. Have you visited any of your local thrift stores recently? Or even those in a neighboring town? You’ll find designer brands that still have their original tags on. Many of the clothes are brand new and have never been worn. And, your purchases support charitable causes that help your neighbors who are in need, rather than supporting the expansion of suburban shopping malls.
- Entertainment. Could we all make a pledge to not go to the movie theatres, sporting events, and commercially engineered entertainment venues designed to distract you from the realities of your actual life? If you want to be entertained, go to your community theatre. Support the local plays and musicals that never even break even. You’ll see your friends and neighbors, and recognize talents you did not know existed in your hometown. Spend your Friday night at the high school football field supporting your local athletes. Cheer on their hard work and dedication to team work, commitment, and responsibility. Help them learn to prioritize physical fitness and camaraderie.