The Common Good

Two Options for Weathering Economic Storms: Wealth or Simplicity

The present financial crisis facing our nation is sure to touch most of our lives in one way or another over the next few days, months, and even years. It does raise in my mind a couple of questions. Who will be most affected and who will survive? I think we all will be affected-if we have not been already-by the massive amount of foreclosures happening around the country, by the decline in real estate value, by the loss of jobs or cuts in salary, and by escalating oil prices. There are not too many of us that will go untouched.

There are, however, two groups of people that are better suited to survive the storm, and they are the very wealthy and those who live simply. The very wealthy will take a hit, but on account of being very wealthy they are better prepared than most for storms and massive losses. Those who live simply are in many ways prepared because the simple lifestyle keeps you from over-indulging in this consumer driven economy of ours. Living simply is wealth for the middle class and the poor.

I have been an advocate of simple living for a while now, and I have taken my share of shots about it. I have friends who earn good money, have purchased big homes that were a little more than they could afford, and drive really nice cars that cost them a bit more and burn a lot more gas. They have wonderful wardrobes and laugh quite a bit about my thrift store ways and refusal to buy over-priced clothing. Consequently, these friends cannot afford to lose a job, get a cut in salary, or have their interest rates to go up too much. These things, if they happen, will devastate their lives because they are not wealthy. They earn good salaries, use every bit of it, and use a lot of credit cards for purchases.

Simplicity says to use very little credit. Buy the older model car that you can own. Shop at reasonably priced venues. Use public transportation sometimes instead of driving. The smaller house is okay. My friends that live this way can survive the coming storms a bit better. They have, in fact, created stability in their lives that allows them to live, as they are wealthy through this crisis.

Leroy BarberLeroy Barber is president of Mission Year, a national urban initiative introducing 18- to 29-year-olds to missional and communal living in city centers for one year of their lives. He is also the pastor of Community Fellowships Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of New Neighbor.

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