The American Dream Re-Mastered… The New Normal


The American Dream Re-mastered – The New Normal?

The phrase “new normal” has been making the rounds in articles, posts, and blogs regarding the current economy.  These new normals are things many F-word (The NEW F-Word) people have been doing for a long time.  And whether you’re a hardcore minimalist, practice part-time frugality, or are a temporary tightwad, the growing trend is changing the definition of “The American Dream”.

 “The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of prosperity and success. In the American Dream, first expressed by James T. Adams in 1931, citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a “better, richer, and happier life.”  The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor.”From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (emphasis added)

A better, richer, and happier life.  Somewhere along the way, I think we, as a society, have lost sight of what truly defines a better, richer, and happier life.  Is it really about earning more money, in order to live in a bigger house, drive a fancier car, or ordering super-sized meals, owing more things?  Isn’t it ironic that the American Dream has become synonymous with incurring a 15-30 year debt?!  I don’t believe that is what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

The American Dream Re-mastered (TADR….yeah I made that up.  Kind of sounds like Tada!) is a truer course to a better, richer, happier life.  For some, TADR is a way to survive a layoff, a downsized employment or to pay off a looming, incurred debt.  For others, TADR is a voluntary choice.  The news is full of people who are making choices to live TADR by eliminating their debt (step 1: STOP SPENDING $$, and start tracking your expenses right now!), reducing personal possessions that are unnecessary (the average American family owns 2.7 television sets, and 34 electronic devices, and don’t get me started on the number of shoes the average American woman owns!), and “right-sizing” their lives by reducing living costs (smaller homes, renting vs. owning, living closer to work to eliminate extra vehicles, ditching the cable, cooking at home).

And guess what?? These peeps are living a better, richer, happier life!  Now they have more time to spend with family and friends, more time to pursue new experiences and interests, and believe it or not, some of these people are making a living that supports their lifestyle, in some cases their families, by doing what they LOVE.

Some of the best examples of people living TADR are:

 Rowdy Kittens

Man vs. Debt

Far Beyond the Stars

Becoming Minimalist

Zen Habits

 The American Dream – Re-mastered…. 

Are you living The American Dream Re-mastered?  What does the American Dream look like for you?

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The NEW F-Word….


With the economy in its current state, and unemployment on the rise (again), it seems logical that most people are trying to spend less (stay-cation ring a bell?), save more (the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the personal savings rate was up 6.4%) and in a word, be a little more “frugal”.

 

Frugal – The New F-Word?   Go to fullsize image

But as things would have it, being “frugal” can be a potential turn off for those “looking for love”.  According to a New York Times article entitled “How to be Frugal and Still be Asked on Date” a survey conducted by ING Direct (a company that offers online savings accounts…how ironic) asked 1,000 people what comes to mind if someone were to set them up on a date with someone who is “frugal”.  According to the survey, 27% of the people surveyed would consider the person “stingy”.  15% used the word “boring”, while only 3.7% answered “sexy”.  Read the article here.

For those of you, who don’t care about saving money or excess spending, please feel free to stop reading now J

On the other hand, for those of us who prefer to live within our means and maybe even consider ourselves the F**** word, ….there is hope!  I remember when being frugal was synonymous with being a tightwad or cheapskate….heck there are people who actually made livings promoting thrift.  Remember the Tightwad Gazette (Amy Dacyczyn) or The Complete Cheapskate (Mary Hunt)??  I’ve owned all of these authors’ books (borrowed from the library, then purchased used, of course!).

Today, there is a large movement towards living a simple, minimalist lifestyle.  Minimalism takes the sting off the word frugal or simple.  Minimalism is more about creating a simple life, where necessities are focused and non-essentials are eliminated.  It’s about doing more, with less.  It’s not about reusing Ziploc bag or dumpster diving (yup it was promoted in the Tightwad Gazette), but about eliminating (and not purchasing) the nonessential in order to have more freedom (and less debt!!) to actually live more.

A simple, minimalist lifestyle…..that’s what I want for myself and others.  So go ahead, drop the F-bomb on me.  I’m frugal person and it’s sexy as hell 🙂

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Life:Best Practices


Life

A characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.

Best practices

Methods and techniques that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and which are used as benchmarks to strive for.

Life: Best Practices is the term I like to use for those ideas, strategies and habits that will help me, and hopefully others along the way, learn to live a more abundant, enjoyable life.

Obviously, living isn’t something we’re taught.  Living is something that comes natural to us.  But, once you stop to think about it, is how you spend your life really “living”?  I wrote in my last post that I enjoyed my current job, but was hesitant to say I loved it.  I earn a “living” but does my “living” provide me the ability and time to actually “live”?  What if we took the time and effort to focus on how to achieve the things we really want out of life?

And what is it we really want out of life?  Before you answer that, think about it for minute.  Most people would probably say what they want out of life is something akin to the American Dream.

“The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of prosperity and success. In the American Dream, first expressed by James T. Adams in 1931, citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a “better, richer, and happier life.”  The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor.” – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A better, richer, and happier life.  Somewhere along the way, I think we, as a society, have lost sight of what truly defines a better, richer, and happier life.  It is not about earning more money, in order to “live” (there’s that word again!) in a bigger house, drive a fancier car, or own more things!

A better life would be one where Life’s Best Practices become habits, because the methods produce superior results, making us richer and happier.

A richer life would be one where there is time to pursue those things that enrich our lives life.

A happier life would be one where we look forward to the present of each day, not just the weekends, holidays or vacation.

For me, this is the beginning on a Journey to Life.  And like any good road trip, a little planning is in order.

1)         Determine where exactly it is I want to go.  To live a more abundant, enjoyable life.

2)         Map out the journey (no using Google Maps for this one!) Reducing my current debt aggressively by eliminate ALL unnecessary spending and living a more frugal, minimalist lifestyle.   De-clutter my life by reducing my personal belongings to under 100 things by December 31, 2010.  Start my own small online business in order to become self-employed in the future.

3)         Pack for the journey. Read, research, learn new ways to create the life I want.

4)         Hit the road!

Bon Voyage!

WinkBlu

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Hello world!


Deep breath……

This is my first blog, and my first blog post. Believe it or not, I honestly feel a little nervous! I remember getting my first diary when I was young and looking SO forward to writing my thoughts, ideas, feelings…until I actually wrote on the first crisp, clean white page. What should I say? What if I didn’t like what I wrote? What if someone read it?! Needless to say, it was probably two months before I’d drafted, edited, and formatted my first diary entry. 🙂

I’ve always loved to read and to write, but I’m also overly critical of my “voice” and much too often would “edit” my writing to reflect what I thought someone else would want it to be. Even in my personal, private writings. So those pretty diaries and journals would sit, collecting dust, instead of collecting my voice. In the past year, a lot of major events have occurred in my life and I think some of these events were the catalyst to my beginning this blog.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time latey reading and researching minimalist living. Some of my favorite sites so far are:

Far Beyond the Stars

Man vs. Debt

RowdyKittens

In a lot of ways, I’ve alway been a minimalist at heart, but sometimes I’ve let life (or those in my life) change my focus. And being frugal (is that word still acceptable?!) comes easily for me. For one, I’m of Scottish hertiage and we Scots do not like to part with our hard earned cash. Secondly, I’ve always felt confined by having too much stuff. I recently moved into a new apartment, and in the process, began a serious campagain against “stuff”. I’ve given away bags of clothes, shoes, furniture …. all in the hopes of being able to own less than 100 things by December 31, 2010. The feeling of relief and freedom from having less stuff is a very motivating and powerful. If your interested in reading more about the 100 Thing Challenge, read this:

100 Thing Challenge

So a little about me:

My name is Deb.  My life is changing in dramatic and exciting ways. I currently work as an Executive Assistant to the Director of a locally owned municipal utilites company.  And while I do enjoy what I do (for a living), I can’t say I love my job.  I mean, really?  Who LOVES a job? I enjoy what I do, and where I work….but what I love is freedom, time to pursue the things I truly enjoy and care about.  So I’ve embarked on this Journey to Life.  My hope (no, my focus) is to really begin to LIVE –  by living a minimalist lifestyle and creating a small online business by August 1, 2011 in order to leave the World of the Cubicles and begin truly LIVING MY LIFE. 🙂

Until next time,

WinkBlu

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