The American experience of rising standards of living and general prosperity have always rested upon a deep and healthy middle class….[one] of earnings and savings, not credit and borrowing… Simply continuing along the status quo is a vote for digging ourselves deeper as the constraints of the future arrive. Behavior change is necessary in order to improve our chances. [This article presents 14] prudent behaviors to adopt…as we start trending back towards more historic baselines. Words: 1340
So writes Adam Taggart (www.peakprosperity.com) in edited excerpts from a lengthy all encompassing article* entitled Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Americans Can’t Afford the Future. For other portions of the enlightening article please go here.
Taggart goes on to say in further edited excerpts;
…Much can be done…to enter the future with grace and optimism – if as a society we have the courage to do it…[We need to] redefine prosperity. In modern society, it has largely come to be defined by material possessions, usually assuming that the more (and the more expensive), the better. In the future, we’d do much better to define it by:
- our health (both physical and emotional)
- our purpose
- our ability to meet our needs sustainably
- our relationships
- our level of happiness
In sum, all things that were once valued much higher in our culture.
It’s important to realize that when the cheap energy and associated cheap-credit era arrived, the work of all those energy and liquidity “slaves” allowed us to disassociate ourselves from centuries-old customs and live a much more isolated, materialistic life. While freeing in ways, perhaps, we are beginning to realize that those values and norms evolved for a reason. We’ll be on a journey of rediscovering their worth as we start trending back towards more historic baselines.
The good news is the list of prudent behavior to adopt is long, and it’s growing as we (here at PeakProsperity.com and related sites) work together to identify those with the most promise. This is by no means an exhaustive account, and I look forward to active discussion and additions in the Comments section below:
- Live below your means – Rather than pride yourself on what you purchase, pride yourself on what you don’t. That doesn’t mean you must live miserly or live in poverty. Learn the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can afford the things you do buy, and the confidence that comes from growing your savings. (Frugality is the #1 quality that all self-made millionaires share)
- Buy quality and maintain it – When you do purchase something, buy for utility and longevity. “Cry once” is a good motto: in other words, pay a premium if necessary to get what will meet your needs best over the longest time horizon (versus “crying often” and spending more $$ over the long run because you bought an inferior product that needed chronic repairs or replacement). Take good care of what you do buy to ensure it will be there as you need it when you need it.
- Take control of your income – Avoid being a wage slave for your entire life. There are innumerable reasons why your situation with your employer can change faster and more drastically than you think. Cultivate an income you “own”, either full-time or on the side, so that you aren’t left 100% vulnerable to a sudden change in employment. (I realize this is easier said then done, but it is doable by just about everybody. We have a guide we’ll publish on this subject within the next few weeks.)
- Cultivate resiliency – Invest in your skills, your homestead, your health, and your community. These will all serve you well as economic growth slows further due to reasons outlined in the Crash Course – and for the skeptics, these are solid investments no matter which way the economy turns. For those new to resiliency, our What Should I Do? Guide is a useful resource to start with.
- Simplify – Learn that less is more. Fewer things to deal with frees you up to focus more on those that matter most. In addition to being a good philosophy to live by, it also reduces the number of things to pay for and the number of things to be taxed on. Both of which leave more money in your pocket.
- Apprentice/mentor – Learn how to do important tasks yourself instead of becoming dependent on paying someone. If you can trade labor for learning, you may be able to avoid some or all of the excessive time and $ costs of academia. If you have expertise, pass it on to others around you. In this way, we create resiliency at the community level, improving the odds that an effective local support network is in place if ever needed.
- Shop & invest locally – Keep capital inside your community to strengthen it and enable re-investment. So much is currently sent to multinational corporations and Wall Street banks – never to return – that even a small percentage redirection will make a big impact at the local level.
- Prefer hard assets to paper ones – In a world of runaway central bank money printing, paper currencies (like the U.S. dollar) are not a smart option for storing wealth. Nor are dangerously inflated paper securities like stocks and bonds. If possible, purchase physical assets you can tangibly hold and store, like precious metals, and for the rest of your investments, find a financial advisor who has a strategy that takes hard assets and depleting resources into account
- Consider multi-generational living – The economics of the future may force this on us, and that may not be a bad thing but it’s better to adopt this lifestyle by your own choice, on your own terms, if possible. We have moved so far away from this model of living, at great cost – both money-wise and socially. Knowledge transfer, chore sharing, child/elder care, emotional support, cost reduction, pooled purchasing power – there are many advantages to co-habitating with close family or friends.
- Get and stay fit – The benefits of good health on quality of life, longevity, and net worth are just too numerous to ignore. The modern “sick care” industry over-focuses on treating what breaks. Instead, focus on achieving and maintaining wellness…
- Use your productive output as an alternative currency – Much can be acquired without $, in trade for your support or skills. Both goods and services. Learn to ask: What can I trade? before asking How much does it cost? You’ll save money while at the same time increasing your perceived value to those around you.
- Pursue happiness – Learn that pleasure comes from relationships, from having purpose, from creation, and having new experiences. All of these can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, and few require spending lots of money. If you manage to simplify your life (see above) and find pleasure in doing so, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy the future, whatever it brings.
- Require awareness and accountability for the future – Hold your elected officials to the same standards you hold yourself. Vote accordingly. Participate in the democratic process. It may not work as well or as fast as we want, but boycotting will only guarantee us disappointment. In a nutshell, hope for the best but don’t plan on miracles.
- Trust yourself – Always rely on your own good sense and intuition about what makes sense for you and your family in your unique situation. Do consult with those who have insight and experience to share that will help you make the most informed choices you possibly can, but remember that your present and future are your own responsibility. Do not ever fully relinquish this power to anyone else – not the government, not a family member, not a professional adviser, not even “the experts .” Always, always trust yourself first and foremost.
There are other prudent behaviors to add to this list, but this is a pretty good start and a good start is what we need, as a country and a global community: to stop denying the reality around you and start getting on with how to deal with it.
Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.
*http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/81190/lets-stop-fooling-ourselves-americans-cant-afford-future (Copyright © 2013 Whitney Peak Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.)
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