Technology has made our live better in numerous ways (you wouldn’t be reading this without it!) but there is one area that has suffered: our money.
Finance is a topic that I’m going to come back to again and again because I think it’s inherently tied to the idea of minimalism.
The person I was speaking to was talking about how the nature of access to money has changed. In the 1970s you had to go into the bank, fill out a form to get some of your wages out, and keep the cash in your pocket. In the 1980s, the introduction of ATMs made it easier to get your cash out. By the 1990s online banking and using cards to pay instead of cash started to take hold.
And today we have mobile and contactless technology that literally lets us spend money in seconds.
Money we quite often don’t need to spend on stuff we don’t need to buy.
The problem, as he saw it (and I tend to agree), is that while it’s been made easier to spend, it hasn’t been made any easier to save. He worked out it takes one minute to purchase an item online, just eight minutes to switch credit cards and under an hour to get a mortgage.
The proliferation of debt is unrelenting and everything is geared towards becoming a first-time buyer or borrower, but what about first-time savers?
In the UK opening a savings account is so much more difficult that getting a credit card. No wonder we are the most personally indebted country in Europe.
I don’t think it’s a revolutionary idea to say all our financial systems are geared towards making us spend but at the same time it’s worth reiterating. It’s so easy to be stuck on the merry-go-round of debt (and debt=stuff).
I’m happy that we’re jumping off but it’s a much bigger task than just decluttering, it’s a total rewiring of your brain to notice just when you’re being tempted back on to the merry-go-round.