Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?
My wife brought this to my attention. I’m not an avid Oprah viewer, but usually when I tune in I hear good advice. And with the help of financial guru Suze Orman, she’s asking families all across America one simple question; what can you live without?
At first, it seems like a daunting task.
Don’t go out to eat.
Don’t use your credit cards.
Don’t do any shopping for a week.
Surely things will come around that require cash, like you run out of milk or your car needs gas?
Well, this is all part of the experiment. Planning and budgeting is everything, and is something few families do well. I’m guilty of it myself. I’ll pop to the store for milk and come home with a bag of groceries. And yet, when I was a young kid I remember the pantry slowly getting empty as grocery day approached. My folks bought a week’s worth of shopping and lived off it. No need to do a midweek shop. We had what we needed and nothing more. Maybe this is something we should bring back?
Credit Cards, or the lack of them, also play a role in the Oprah plan. Basically, if you have to put anything on a credit card, you can’t afford it. Sure, I know some people spend on an Amex to collect miles and then pay it off every month, but we’re talking about the average, American credit-card user.
When it comes down to it, if you’re putting the new stove or sofa on a credit card (or even worse, a store credit card) then you really shouldn’t be buying that item at all. Remember, back in the day people used to do this crazy thing called “saving.” Today, we’re all about instant gratification. Buy now, pay later. And by the time we’re finished paying something off, it’s time to get a new one. The cycle never ends.
Another aspect of Oprah’s experiment is to simplify your life. In a recent episode, a woman was asked to put everything from her closet into storage that she hadn’t used in two months. It was amazing to see just how much she boxed up. This is another valuable lesson. We’re a bunch of pack rats. We hoard and store and are afraid to let go of anything. We’d rather have a garage or basement full of clutter and junk than part with something we bought 10 years ago and haven’t used in the last nine years. Simplify, and life can become so much easier.
The same woman also went through her fridge and threw away pounds and pounds of old, out-of-date food. Her family does the big shop every week, but they eat out, or eat fast food, almost every night. So that food which they buy with good intentions is basically cash in the trash. From expensive bagged salads to meats and vegetables, it was so sad to see so much food go straight into the garbage can.
Again, this is all about planning and budgeting. If you MUST eat out once a week, don’t go buying food that won’t get eaten. And keep your fridge in order. It’s so easy to push the good food to the back of the fridge with some leftovers from another meal. You forget about it until that ominous smell appears, giving everything the aroma of rotting nastiness.
Check out more at Oprah.com and perhaps tonight you can sit down with your own family and make a pledge to live without the things you don’t really need. Maybe you’ll discover that living without actually brings you a lot more in return.