In America’s beginnings, many found their way to this country by agreeing to indentured servitude. Under this arrangement, ship captains would agree to take the person to the New World if they agreed to be a servant for a specific time once they arrived. These captains orchestrated these contracts with the wealthy in America and it was a way to provide a constant flow of servants that would be paid little to nothing during their time as an indentured servant.
It was slavery with a term limit.
That was then, but a type of indentured servitude still happens today. It is all around us. Here is how it works:
A person gets a job because they need money to support themselves. They pay rent, buy a car, insurance, and some groceries. They are then offered credit cars or other interest-carrying loans. Perhaps, they buy a house. Then, they buy furniture and other items. Now, they own a portion of their future paychecks to pay for anything they bought on credit with interest.
A result is a person now has to work harder, longer, move up in promotions, take a second job or do freelance work to pay for all these things they’ve purchased on credit. This is a form of indentured servitude, even though we don’t call it that.
This type of system limits choices in life. You only get a couple of weeks a year of vacation, so your travel is limited. A person would find it difficult to quit to stay home with children or care for an elderly parent because of financial duress. There could be a dream that you want to pursue but can’t because you must remain dedicated to your job to continue to provide financial stability. All this is the result of heavy consumerism.
The long-term result is that people today are not retiring, but working as long as possible to maintain their lifestyle.
Most people want out of this rat wheel but don’t know how to escape.
There are five things you can do to stop the consumerism merry-go-round and allow for more freedom in your life:
- Change your attitude about buying luxuries. Define what you need to survive and what you want to improve your life. Making the distinction between the two is the first step to reorganizing your spending habits.
- Commit to not use credit for luxury items and pay for them in cash. This will help in two ways. It will reduce the interest you pay over future payments and encourages you to save up for what you want. Freeing up your credit line will be helpful in the future should you need it for something necessary, like a car or home repair.
- Design a plan to pay off debt and stick to it. Many companies and programs can help with this. There are also some free services available in communities and online that help people get out of debt.
- Start saving. This is a hard habit to start in the beginning because you may feel you need the money to pay bills. Even so, this is one of the best ways to achieve financial freedom because then you won’t need to borrow money for emergencies, birthdays or other expenses. The general rule by most financial experts is to stick 10 percent of your paycheck in savings every payday.
- Learn to give. The best way to end a consumerist mentality is to give to someone else. It could be your time, money or something else you have that someone could use. It doesn’t need to be worth in money either. Practicing giving focuses your attention on other people’s needs rather than your own and tends to lead to gratefulness in your own life.
Putting these five strategies in place is a good way to start your exit off the consumerism train and put you on the path to a better, more freedom-filled life. It will take time, but securing your financial freedom will pay off in the long run because it allows you to choose how you want to work, the time you want to put into it and when you want to retire.