Living Lives Of Luxury…


…And Forgetting The Fact.

This post is a reflection on both my November spending and my efforts to develop a daily practice of gratitude. As I mentioned before, I’m OK with my spending total and the categories I spent money on except for the food budget.  The thing about questioning your behavior and wanting to change it is that it opens up other doors and with the internet at your fingertips, a virtual wormhole opens up to you connecting topics to your behavior that you had never thought of before.  For me that led to comparing my food spending to that of other American households.  Then to the issue of hunger, not only in the U.S. but in the rest of the world as well.   And then to the startling discovery that we apparently waste 40% of the food produced in this country!!  Am I the only one that finds this unsettling?  These are all issues I will explore deeper in later posts, but for now I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s get back to luxury.

I took November’s spending and for my own amusement broke it down between what I considered luxury spending and spending on necessities.  Here is a picture of a not so Stoic life:


For those who are curious here is how I categorized the spending:

Luxury spending

  • Bank Fee: $19.00
  • Cell  phone: $23.19
  • Eating out: $290.20
  • Entertainment: $26.72
  • Internet: $14.99
  • Laundry: $19.00
  • Liquor: $38.05
  • Motorcycle Ins.: $57.35
  • Vehicle Ins.: $95.00
  • Shopping: $111.30

Total: $694.80

Spending On Necessities

  • Groceries: $128.50
  • Garbage: $19.00
  • House Ins.: $84.62
  • Property Tax: $31.50
  • Water: $40.00
  • Electric/Gas: $39.75
  • Personal Care: $15.91

Total: $359.28

Now you may argue that a cell phone or internet is a must have theses days.  I would still have to disagree, because I’m not just comparing my spending to those in my own country, but to those of every other human that inhabits this planet with me.  Set in that context, those items are indeed luxuries. In fact, I believe that a strong argument could be made that some of the “necessity” spending is indeed luxurious.

The point of this little exercise is not to justify certain spending over other categories, it’s about finding perspective.  It’s appreciating the abundance that is in my life.  The very fact that 2/3 of my spending goes to luxury items brings me great joy.  It means that if things ever get really bad I have a lot of fat I could trim.

One of the simplest things I have found that increases my happiness is appreciating what I already have.  It takes time to cultivate this habit, but what other choice do I have?  You see I haven’t always been an advocate for living a simple life.  I’ve chased opulence with every ounce of my fiber and been thoroughly disillusioned by the results.  I’ve enjoyed first-class airfare, expensive dinners at fine restaurants and a six-figure income. Before you say that six-figure incomes aren’t all that great, don’t forget that I enjoyed the foreign income tax credit and had most of my living expenses subsidized by my company.  Trust me, those six-figures last a lot longer under those circumstnaces.  Hell, I’ve even rented out an entire spa at a hotel overlooking the Nile river!  I know all about the definition the world gives us concerning success and I’m calling BULLSHIT!  I’ve found developing my own concept of success to be much more liberating.

I’m not sharing any of this with you to brag, I’m merely representing my own disagreement with a way of life that I had always thought would bring me happiness.  Trust me, I know the sound illusions make when they start to crumble.  Yet even now, as I attempt to simplify my economic life so that I can get on with the more important parts of living, I find that luxury is still abundant if I only choose to see it that way…




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