Some of us have a great deal of discretionary income; others of us have very little. In any case, if we want to make an impact on the planet with monetary “energy” we can use our money to make a better world.
Throughout my life, I’ve noticed the spiritual adage, “Whatever we give, we get back threefold” to be remarkably true in my life. Several years ago, I experienced this truth in action. Before I left Arizona for a California vacation, I gave a white baby shirt my children had outgrown to a friend. I also wanted to give something to her four-year-old daughter so I brought along something for her, a faux silver ring with a smiling “Hang ten” foot.
During my California trip, my Grandma took me shopping; she really wanted to buy me something. I settled on a white blouse. Later that weekend, my relatives and I went to the Laguna Arts Festival. The whole group got toe rings, I’m not a big toe ring person, but I went along with my Aunt’s urgings. I selected a silver one. When I came home I was very surprised to realize that I gave away two things in a form I could not use and was given two similar items in a form that I could use!
This is not the only time I’ve noticed this principle at work and I am sure it won’t be the last.
Sometimes people are fearful that if they let things go they won’t get “more” or even that they will lose a piece of their identity. However, those of us who have had the opportunity to lose all of their personal belongings (like yours truly due to an apartment fire) have an amazing opportunity to “dis-identify” with their possessions.
Recently, I worked with a client who desired to make monetary changes and to stop buying things she didn’t need. There are many hidden costs to accumulating stuff: we have to store it, clean it, move it (uggh!), we have to insure it and take care of it. There are emotional costs as well: we need to be able to find it and we may be preoccupied that someone will break it or take it.
Having material things takes time. The more we have the harder it becomes to find what we want. It is difficult to be proactive when we are weighed down by stuff. If we are an artist we may find we can’t find our paint brushes, we don’t have any empty spaces to put canvases and we can’t find the time because there is so much “stuff” to take care of. We all know people who don’t follow their passions because they always have to organize their house.
We can use the money we don’t spend on useless things on things that don’t leave a “footprint” such as a nice meal, a donation to a charity, a life coaching session, or a massage. This way we don’t get stuck with hidden costs.
If you need to clear out, start now. My friend, Michele, has her children donate all the toys they don’t play with any longer to the charity shops. Her children will get to pick one toy from the charity shop when they are done. This is a wonderful way to teach our children the power of giving and the principle of abundance.
If you have had the experience of a fire or natural disaster you can appreciate this truth: In times of disaster, people could really use the things that you no longer use. If you feel you don’t have money to donate, this could be a powerful way for you to make a huge impact for yourself and those in need.
As I grow older the list of things that I think are essentially useless is growing. Because I am an avid reader, I used to buy books constantly. Now I mostly use the library. I have since donated the vast majority of my books to my local library (my friend, Reggie, reminds me that books acquire dust mites if you keep them too long).
I don’t want to be a Grandma who can’t have children in my home because I am afraid my chotchskies are at risk. I don’t ever want things to keep me from participating in life.
We can be deliberate with our spending and be conscious about what we buy (or buy into!) thereby voting with our money. One of the sensual pleasures of being a human being is enjoying things. However, upon reflection, maybe we will or won’t buy a track mansion, a four carat ring, or a Hummer. If we want to make an impact, we might buy things that will support the environment, support our favorite charity or charities, or something that is a choice that honors who we truly are.
In any case, for most of us conspicuous consumption is out. Living deliberately, passionately and with a powerful and loving legacy is in (hopefully, here to stay). If you are ready to make an impact with what you have streamline, donate, dis-indentify with your material possessions, consider spending on that which doesn’t leave a footprint, and consciously “vote” with your money.
Remember, you can’t take it with you.