Learning to love the less

living-in-less

As I continue to build a readership on my little blog, I’m struggling with what I’m sure many newly minted authors go through: Trying to find the topic I want to work with. What is the heart of “my brand”? What is the specific focus of my topic? Yes, it’s about personal finance, but on a smaller scale, I had thought I wanted to write to younger women – educate them about financial mistakes to watch out for in college – and try to teach about “financial prevention,” so to speak.

The more I write and the more I read other bloggers in the pf community, the more I think about what I want to bring to the table. Do I want young women to start paying more attention to their finances when they first move out of the house? Yes, but I feel like a lot of the pressure to spend money and be financially ruined comes from what we value as a culture. Advertising aligns with your innermost insecurities as much as your strongest desires. The two are very often intertwined. I didn’t feel exceptionally empowered until I turned twenty-four, and there are days I still struggle with that, some days I still feel clueless and eighteen. I feel that way about most things, not just money and finances.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying self esteem was a real issue for me for a lot of years of my young adult life, and of course it affected my finances because self esteem affects everything. I handled it in the wrong way because I believed if I bought more then somehow I’d magically be prettier or more glamorous, or that the heart of my problems would seem further away. The scariest part of all of it is that consumerism works, it does make you feel better in the moment and it can be the best of distractions and ocassionally a really fantastic motivator. It took me more years than I would care to admit to learn that my value as a person is not tied to my bank account, or even to my most favorite designer bag or pair of shoes. My worth does not lie in the fantastical tropic locale I spent my summer vacation in, or in the latest car model I drive.

Even into my mid twenties-I loved living in New York, but even there so much of the culture seemed caught up in labels;  what you were wearing,who you worked for or what glitzy event you were going to that weekend. I miss it sometimes, but a great part of coming home has been in learning to live with (and on) less. It’s no secret that any job I could hope to get here in the South would pay me between 30-40% of what I made last year in the city. It will be hard trying to change my lifestyle, but I think this is what I want the true focus of my blog to be–how to be happy and have a life based on true value instead over the monetary.

I was driving down a deserted country back road yesterday-in a truck no less. I am already cringing as I write this, giving friends ammunition towards southern cliches and stereotypes but nevertheless, the sun was amazingly bright and I had my shoes off feeling the thrum of the engine against my bare feet on the pedal. I started humming to myself, which I only really do when I am happy. I was on my way home to see my parents and give my pup a squeez, a text message from my super-sweet boyfriend on my phone-even though I’m “funemployed” I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m happy! I thought, so excited at this revelation.

Even more surprising was how little it took to make me feel that way-just an old truck, some bare feet and a deserted back road.

I think I’m off to a pretty great start in learning how to love “the less” of life.