I am not sure where it comes from, but I notice it a lot amongst those who have lived with TAR – the pride in living on nearly nothing as it compares to the average population. I noticed it again, just the other day when Mental Floss published this graphic from a recent study in the United States.
People commented on how they live on less than that, currently or in the past and it led me down a path of memories and introspection. In the past, I could have been one of them – with an annual income that was closer to the poverty line than I care to remember. I once had that pride in being able to live, quite happily I thought, on much less than average.
For years I took great pride in my bargain hunting abilities and frugal nature. They were necessary skills to survive some of the lean years with my ex and again when things fell apart between us. There was lots of scrimping and saving. But as I lived through it, I never realized how very heavy the pressure of living that way was. Check to check, hand to mouth, robbing Peter to pay Paul. The constant worry and the juggling…thinking that’s simply the way it is.
I didn’t dream of more. And I took such pride in being able to get by on so little.
Even when that little started to grow, my buying habits didn’t change that much – I remain frugal and haven’t changed my buying habits very much. The difference is I can breathe now. I don’t need to freak out when an invoice is late being paid. It’s still frustrating, but more of an annoyance than an emergency.
I can be less concerned with budgeting for a luxury, knowing that if I put it on my wish list, I can work towards it.
And so I wonder why so many of us take such pride in living on nothing – what purpose does it serve and why do so many survivors accept poverty as such a point of pride that it becomes a given?
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