This week I’m trying out ‘live below the line’ – with one of my flatmates I’m living on less than $2.25 worth of food per day. I spend too much on food when I have spare money, so I’m doing this to force me to be more careful in future. It’s not too tricky actually, as we bought stuff as a group of four. We have lots of oats, apples, rice, lentils and veges, some eggs, bread and peanut butter, and even a treat food that may be revealed later, and we’re a little bit under budget. The main thing we will miss I think is milk. Here is the flatmate doing his duty in disposing of our leftover luxury drink before the week started. Yes, I’m allowed to post this, and it’s funnier in the context of our flat, okay? We are actually hilarious, trust me.
We of course have the advantage of being able to pay for accommodation and non-food conveniences as normal, while well over a billion people around the world need to pay for everything with less than $2.25/day. It is difficult to imagine living in far less comfort than we currently enjoy and take for granted. Speaking for myself, I’m so bound up in my own sense of entitlement that I frequently don’t even bother to enjoy it, when so many others would consider my everyday life as an impossible luxury.
We’re supporting World Vision with whatever money we raise. If you’d like to assist this awesome organisation, please do throw $5 or $10 in the pot. The pot is here.
More importantly, perhaps spend 5 or 10 minutes thinking about what you spend money on, and what it shows about your priorities. I recently saw a quote from someone (someone on the internet – that narrows it down, right?) to the effect that what we spend money on most effortlessly is what we most treasure. In my case, this target of effortless spending is not actually food (working out what it is was a bit of a revelation), but food for myself is still fairly high up that list, suggesting that my comfort is fairly important to me! Welcome to living in the comfortable Western world.
In closing, I apologise for the self-promotion inherent in this kind of event – but even noting that I recognise it might come across as a kind of fake humility, and the infinite loop of cringeworthiness has now been started, so I’ll just stop. Hopefully reading this helps you consider how what you really value, what you spend, and what you eat fits in with how the other inherently conscious, rational, relational, and religious* beings on this precious little blue dot in the Milky Way live.
A final comment, given the popularity of social justice-type endeavours amongst many of our generation: I don’t believe that occasionally living ‘better’ (or cheaper) is enough for moral justification or a clean conscience. This may sound extreme and may need some context, but I think it amounts to something like adding a drop of muddy water to a bucket of contaminated blood and then celebrating how pure we’ve made everything. As a matter of moral necessity, at the bare minimum we need a new bucket. Having been given a precious vase instead, it would be a bit rude to keep vomiting or bleeding into the vessel if we can avoid it. If you feel the analogy is flawed or offensive, I’d be fascinated to know. If you like it, that’s cool, but try not to feed my ego, I’m trying to cut back.
*we all worship something.