Monday, July 13, 2009
Oh Dear! This could really be the end of life as we've known it in the good 'ol USA - part of the "new normal" that they keep talking about - as people like Dave Bruno are apparently succeeding in convincing other people that they don't need so much stuff.
According to Bruno, who writes a blog called guynameddave (don't worry, I couldn't figure it out for a couple of seconds either), you only need about a hundred possessions, and he set out to prove it last year in his 100 thing challenge, shown below with about a dozen of his things (that's a book "collection", apparently, not about a hundred books behind him).
Anyway, Dave's blog got a nice plug today in this USA Today story about how we, as a nation are spending less and saving more, the harsh reality of the new economic conditions taking their toll on even the most spendthrift Americans.
A few excerpts:
"Perhaps the silver lining (of the recession) is that people are coming to realize they can live with less and their lives are richer for it," says Michael Maniates, professor of political and environmental science at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.Making the transition from homeowner to renter about five years ago had more than the obvious implications for our finances. In all that time, we still haven't gotten rid of all the crap that we bought when we owned our own house, the idea of having "one more thing to move" being a recurring reason not to buy stuff.
A third, 32%, say they have been spending less and intend to make that their "new, normal" pattern; 27% say they are saving more and plan to continue, according to a Gallup Poll in April.
Nearly half of consumers, 47%, say they already have what they need, up from 34% in November 2006, according to the 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream.
"People are feeling forced and inspired to get back to what is core to them," says Julie Morgenstern, author of Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life. She says they're valuing objects less and experiences and people more.
Eric Dykstra, pastor of Crossing Church in Elk River, Minn., read Morgenstern's book, then ran across a blog by Dave Bruno of San Diego. Bruno launched a "100 Thing Challenge" in November and says he pared his own possessions to fewer than that.
The housing boom and bust has seen an untold number of houses emptied of all sorts of "things" that people really didn't need, making any economic recovery to the mid-decade heydays virtually impossible.
It was a clever plan while it lasted - create a housing boom with cheap money that creates even more cheap money that people can go out and use to buy things that they don't need to fill up all the houses that were being bought.
It worked great until home prices stopped going up.